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J Protozool. 1985 Aug;32(3):442-6.

The mitochondrion of Plasmodium falciparum visualized by rhodamine 123 fluorescence.


Rhodamine 123 (Rh123) has been used to probe the functional status of the mitochondrion present within the asexual, intraerythrocytic stages of the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum. This cationic fluorescent dye accumulates specifically in negatively charged cellular compartments, such as mitochondria. Using epifluorescence microscopy the development of what appears to be a single mitochondrion has been followed through the intraerythrocytic cycle. Mitochondrial development progresses from a fine thread-like organelle that becomes longer and eventually branched. Each daughter merozoite receives a branch or piece of the parent organelle. Cytoplasmic Rh123 accumulation was also observed, indicating that there exists a transmembrane potential across the outer plasma and parasitophorous vacuolar membranes of the parasite. The effects of uncouplers (protonophores), ionophores, and inhibitors were examined by monitoring Rh123 accumulation and retention. Our results demonstrate that the mitochondrion of P. falciparum actively maintains a high transmembrane potential, the function of which is as yet undefined.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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