Plasmodium DEH is ER-localized and crucial for oocyst mitotic division during malaria transmission
Guttery D., Pandey R., Ferguson D., Wall R., Brady D., Gupta D., Holder A., Tewari R.
Abstract Cells use fatty acids (FAs) for membrane biosynthesis, energy storage and the generation of signaling molecules. 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydratase – DEH – is a key component of very long chain FA (VLCFA) synthesis. Here, we further characterized in-depth the location and function of DEH, applying in silico analysis, live cell imaging, reverse genetics and ultrastructure analysis using the mouse malaria model Plasmodium berghei . DEH is evolutionarily conserved across eukaryotes, with a single DEH in Plasmodium spp. and up to three orthologs in the other eukaryotes studied. DEH-GFP live-cell imaging showed strong GFP fluorescence throughout the life-cycle, with areas of localized expression in the cytoplasm and a circular ring pattern around the nucleus that colocalized with ER markers. Δ deh mutants showed a small but significant reduction in oocyst size compared to WT controls from day 10 post-infection onwards and endomitotic cell division and sporogony were completely ablated, blocking parasite transmission from mosquito to vertebrate host. Ultrastructure analysis confirmed degeneration of Δ deh oocysts, and a complete lack of sporozoite budding. Overall, DEH is evolutionarily conserved, localizes to the ER and plays a crucial role in sporogony.