SAP1 is a critical post-transcriptional regulator of infectivity in malaria parasite sporozoite stages

Ahmed S.I. Aly, Scott E. Lindner, Drew C. MacKellar, Xinxia Peng, Stefan H.I. Kappe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Plasmodium salivary gland sporozoites upregulate expression of a unique subset of genes, collectively called the UIS (upregulated in infectious sporozoites). Many UIS were shown to be essential for early liver stage development, although little is known about their regulation. We previously identified a conserved sporozoite-specific protein, SAP1, which has an essential role in Plasmodium liver infection. Targeted deletion of SAP1 in Plasmodium yoelii caused the depletion of a number of selectively tested UIS transcripts in sporozoites, resulting in a complete early liver stage arrest. Here, we use a global gene expression survey to more comprehensively identify transcripts that are affected by SAP1 deletion. We find an effect upon both the transcript abundance of UIS genes, as well as of select genes previously not grouped as UIS. Importantly, we show that the lack of SAP1 causes the specific degradation of these transcripts. Collectively, our data suggest that SAP1 is involved in a selective post-transcriptional mechanism to regulate the abundance of transcripts critical to the infectivity of sporozoites. Although Pysap1- sporozoites are depleted of many of these important transcripts, they confer long-lasting sterile protection against wild-type sporozoite challenge in mice. SAP1 is therefore an appealing candidate locus for attenuation of Plasmodium falciparum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)929-939
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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