Localization of a 230-KD Parasitophorous Vacuole Membrane Antigen of Plasmodium berghei Exoerythrocytic Schizonts (LSA-2) by Immunoelectron and Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy

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  • Institute of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University, Biomedical Research Institute, Cleveland, Ohio

Using antiserum to a 230-kD parasitophorous vacuole membrane (PVM) antigen of Plasmodium berghei exoerythrocytic schizonts as a specific probe for the PVM, we studied the three-dimensional structure of this membrane within infected host cells by immunoelectron microscopy and confocal laser scanning microscopy at 3, 4, and 50 hr after sporozoite invasion. Fluorescent label was not detected at 3 hr, but was associated with the cytoplasm of 24-hr-old exoerythrocytic parasites. Specific labeling of the PVM was not observed by immunoelectron microscopy until 50 hr, when numerous vesicles and finger-like projections of the PVM were found in the cytoplasm of infected host cells. Labeled vesicles were often isolated and located at the periphery of the infected hepatocyte. Confocal microscopy demonstrated that these vesicles formed discontinuous chains that extended from 3–10 µm away from the parasite. These structures appear to be similar to the membranous clefts of Plasmodium-infected erythrocytes, and may be important in the movement of host or parasite proteins within infected hepatocytes.