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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Mar 31;95(7):3385-9.

Plasmodium gallinaceum preferentially invades vesicular ATPase-expressing cells in Aedes aegypti midgut.

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Medical Entomology Section, Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Penetration of the mosquito midgut epithelium is obligatory for the further development of Plasmodium parasites. Therefore, blocking the parasite from invading the midgut wall disrupts the transmission of malaria. Despite such a pivotal role in malaria transmission, the cellular and molecular interactions that occur during the invasion are not understood. Here, we demonstrate that the ookinetes of Plasmodium gallinaceum, which is related closely to the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, selectively invade a cell type in the Aedes aegypti midgut. These cells, unlike the majority of the cells in the midgut, do not stain with a basophilic dye (toluidine blue) and are less osmiophilic. In addition, they contain minimal endoplasmic reticulum, lack secretory granules, and have few microvilli. Instead, these cells are highly vacuolated and express large amounts of vesicular ATPase. The enzyme is associated with the apical plasma membrane, cytoplasmic vesicles, and tubular extensions of the basal membrane of the invaded cells. The high cost of insecticide use in endemic areas and the emergence of drug resistant malaria parasites call for alternative approaches such as modifying the mosquito to block the transmission of malaria. One of the targets for such modification is the parasite receptor on midgut cells. A step toward the identification of this receptor is the realization that malaria parasites invade a special cell type in the mosquito midgut.

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