Parasitology



Commitment to the production of male and female gametocytes in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum


F. SILVESTRINI a1, P. ALANO a1c1 and J. L. WILLIAMS a2
a1 Laboratorio di Biologia Cellulare, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161 Rome, Italy
a2 Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Department of Entomology, Communicable Diseases and Immunology, Forest Glen Annex, Washington, DC, USA

Abstract

Commitment to the production of female and male gametocytes was studied in the NF54 line of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. The development of sibling parasites derived from individual schizonts was followed, and 2 antisera against the female gametocyte-specific protein Pfg377 and the male gametocyte-specific protein α-tubulin II were used to determine the sex of sibling gametocytes. The experiment showed that individual cohorts of sibling gametocytes were stained in a mutually exclusive fashion by only one or the other antiserum, indicating that individual schizonts committed to yield sexual parasite progeny produce gametocytes of the same sex. This work suggests that in P. falciparum commitment to sexual differentiation occurs prior to schizont maturation, at the same moment when the sex of the resulting gametocytes is determined.

(Received February 9 2000)
(Revised April 18 2000)
(Accepted May 12 2000)


Key Words: Plasmodium falciparum; sexual differentiation; sex determination; gametocytogenesis; sex-specific antibodies.

Correspondence:
c1 Corresponding author: Laboratorio di Biologia Cellulare, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161 Rome, Italy. Tel: +39 06 49902226. Fax: +39 06 49387143. E-mail: frontali@iss.infn.it


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