Sex-specific biology of the human malaria parasite revealed from the proteomes of mature male and female gametocytes

Jun Miao, Zhao Chen, Zenglei Wang, Sony Shrestha, Xiaolian Li, Runze Li, Liwang Cui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The gametocytes of the malaria parasites are obligate for perpetuating the parasite's life cycle through mosquitoes, but the sex-specific biology of gametocytes is poorly understood. We generated a transgenic line in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, which allowed us to accurately separate male and female gametocytes by flow cytometry. In-depth analysis of the proteomes by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry identified 1244 and 1387 proteins in mature male and female gametocytes, respectively. GFP-tagging of nine selected proteins confirmed their sex-partitions to be agreeable with the results from the proteomic analysis. The sex-specific proteomes showed significant differences that are consistent with the divergent functions of the two sexes. Although the male-specific proteome (119 proteins) is enriched in proteins associated with the flagella and genome replication, the female-specific proteome (262 proteins) is more abundant in proteins involved in metabolism, translation and organellar functions. Compared with the Plasmodium berghei sex-specific proteomes, this study revealed both extensive conservation and considerable divergence between these two species, which reflect the disparities between the two species in proteins involved in cytoskeleton, lipid metabolism and protein degradation. Comparison with three sex-specific proteomes allowed us to obtain high-confidence lists of 73 and 89 core male- and female-specific/biased proteins conserved in Plasmodium. The identification of sex-specific/biased proteomes in Plasmodium lays a solid foundation for understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the unique sex-specific biology in this earlybranching eukaryote.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)537-551
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular and Cellular Proteomics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Sex-specific biology of the human malaria parasite revealed from the proteomes of mature male and female gametocytes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this