New Ultrastructural Analysis of the Invasive Apparatus of the Plasmodium Ookinete

Kailash P. Patra Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California

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Joseph M. Vinetz Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California

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Invasion of the mosquito midgut by the Plasmodium ookinete determines the success of transmission of malaria parasites from humans to mosquitoes and therefore, is a potential target for molecular intervention. Here, we show higher-resolution ultrastructural details of developing and mature P. gallinaceum ookinetes than previously available. Improved fixation and processing methods yielded substantially improved transmission electron micrographs of ookinetes, particularly with regard to visualization of subcellular secretory and other organelles. These new images provide new insights into the synthesis and function of vital invasive machinery focused on the following features: apical membrane protrusions presumptively used for attachment and protein secretion, dark spherical bodies at the apical end of the mature ookinete, and the presence of a dense array of micronemes apposed to microtubules at the apical end of the ookinete involved in constitutive secretion. This work advances understanding of the molecular and cellular details of the Plasmodium ookinete and provides the basis of future, more detailed mechanistic experimentation on the biology of the Plasmodium ookinete.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Kailash P. Patra, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of California at San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0741. E-mail: kpatra@ucsd.edu

Financial support: This project was supported by US Public Health Service Grants R21AI053781, 2R01R0145999, and 1U19AI089681 from the National Institutes of Health.

Authors' addresses: Kailash P. Patra and Joseph M. Vinetz, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA, E-mails: kpatra@ucsd.edu and jvinetz@ucsd.edu.

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