CRISPR/Cas9-engineered inducible gametocyte producer lines as a novel tool for basic and applied research on Plasmodium falciparum malaria transmission stages

Published on Oct 5, 2020in bioRxiv
· DOI :10.1101/2020.10.05.326868
Sylwia D. Boltryk3
Estimated H-index: 3
Armin Passecker2
Estimated H-index: 2
(University of Basel)
+ 6 AuthorsTill S. Voss25
Estimated H-index: 25
Abstract The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum replicates inside erythrocytes in the blood of infected humans. During each replication cycle, a small proportion of parasites commits to sexual development and differentiates into gametocytes, which are essential for parasite transmission to other human hosts via the mosquito vector. Detailed molecular investigation of gametocyte biology and transmission has been hampered by difficulties in generating large numbers of these highly specialized cells. Here, we engineered marker-free P. falciparum inducible gametocyte producer (iGP) lines for the routine mass production of synchronous gametocytes. Through targeted overexpression of the sexual commitment factor GDV1, iGP lines consistently achieve sexual commitment rates of 75% and produce gametocytes that are infectious to mosquitoes. Subsequent tagging of a nucleoporin allowed us to visualize marked nuclear transformations during gametocytogenesis and demonstrates that further genetic engineering of iGP lines is an invaluable tool for the targeted exploration of gametocyte biology. We believe the iGP approach developed here opens up unprecedented opportunities that will expedite future basic and applied research on P. falciparum transmission stages.
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