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Plasmodium berghei sporozoite specific genes- PbS10 and PbS23/SSP3 are required for the development of exo-erythrocytic forms

Togiri, Jyothi, Segireddy, Rameswara Reddy, Mastan, Babu S., Singh, Dipti, Kolli, Surendra Kumar, Ghosh, Ankit, Al-Nihmi, Faisal Mohammed Abdul, Maruthi, Mulaka, Choudhary, Hadi Hasan, Dey, Sandeep, Mishra, Satish, Kumar, Kota Arun
Molecular and biochemical parasitology 2019 v.232 pp. 111198
Plasmodium berghei, erythrocytes, genes, hepatocytes, liver, mammals, mutants, oocysts, parasites, protein secretion, proteins, reverse genetics, salivary glands, sexual reproduction, signal peptide, sporozoites, vaccines
Plasmodium sporozoites are infective forms of the parasite to mammalian hepatocytes. Sporozoite surface or secreted proteins likely play an important role in recognition, invasion and successful establishment of hepatocyte infection. By approaches of reverse genetics, we report the functional analysis of two Plasmodium berghei (Pb) sporozoite specific genes- PbS10 and PbS23/SSP3 that encode for proteins with a putative signal peptide. The expression of both genes was high in oocyst and salivary gland sporozoite stages as compared to other life cycle stages and PbS23/SSP3 protein was detected in salivary gland sporozoites. Both mutants were indistinguishable to wild-type parasites with regard to asexual growth in RBC, ability to complete sexual reproduction and form sporozoites in vector host. While the sporozoite stage of both mutants were able to glide and invade hepatocytes normally in vitro and in vivo, PbS10 mutants suffered growth attenuation at an early stage while PbS23/SSP3 mutants manifested defect during late exo-erythrocytic form maturation. Interestingly, both mutants gave rare breakthrough infections, suggesting that while both were critical for liver stage development, their depletion did not completely abrogate blood stage infection. These findings have important implications for weakening sporozoites by multiple gene attenuation towards the generation of a safe whole organism vaccine.