2021-03-05Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.3389/fcimb.2021.624945
Pleiotropic Roles for the Plasmodium berghei RNA Binding Protein UIS12 in Transmission and Oocyst Maturation
Colonization of the mosquito host by Plasmodium parasites is achieved by sexually differentiated gametocytes. Gametocytogenesis, gamete formation and fertilization are tightly regulated processes, and translational repression is a major regulatory mechanism for stage conversion. Here, we present a characterization of a Plasmodium berghei RNA binding protein, UIS12, that contains two conserved eukaryotic RNA recognition motifs (RRM). Targeted gene deletion resulted in viable parasites that replicate normally during blood infection, but form fewer gametocytes. Upon transmission to Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes, both numbers and size of midgut-associated oocysts were reduced and their development stopped at an early time point. As a consequence, no salivary gland sporozoites were formed indicative of a complete life cycle arrest in the mosquito vector. Comparative transcript profiling in mutant and wild-type infected red blood cells revealed a decrease in transcript abundance of mRNAs coding for signature gamete-, ookinete-, and oocyst-specific proteins in uis12(-) parasites. Together, our findings indicate multiple roles for UIS12 in regulation of gene expression after blood infection in good agreement with the pleiotropic defects that terminate successful sporogony and onward transmission to a new vertebrate host.
This article was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Open Access Publication Fund of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.