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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 fatty acid 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. Δdeh mutants showed a small but significant reduction in oocyst size compared with WT controls from day 10 postinfection onwards, and endomitotic cell division and sporogony were completely ablated, blocking parasite transmission from mosquito to vertebrate host. Ultrastructure analysis confirmed degeneration of Δdeh oocysts, and a complete lack of sporozoite budding. Overall, DEH is evolutionarily conserved, localizes to the ER, and plays a crucial role in sporogony.

Original publication




Journal article


Life science alliance

Publication Date





School of Life Sciences, Queens Medical Centre, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK