Migration of Plasmodium sporozoites through cells before infection

Science. 2001 Jan 5;291(5501):141-4. doi: 10.1126/science.291.5501.141.


Intracellular bacteria and parasites typically invade host cells through the formation of an internalization vacuole around the invading pathogen. Plasmodium sporozoites, the infective stage of the malaria parasite transmitted by mosquitoes, have an alternative mechanism to enter cells. We observed breaching of the plasma membrane of the host cell followed by rapid repair. This mode of entry did not result in the formation of a vacuole around the sporozoite, and was followed by exit of the parasite from the host cell. Sporozoites traversed the cytosol of several cells before invading a hepatocyte by formation of a parasitophorous vacuole, in which they developed into the next infective stage. Sporozoite migration through several cells in the mammalian host appears to be essential for the completion of the life cycle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Membrane / parasitology
  • Cell Membrane / physiology
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Cell Movement
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Cytosol / parasitology
  • Dextrans / metabolism
  • Endocytosis
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate / analogs & derivatives*
  • Fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate / metabolism
  • Hepatocytes / parasitology*
  • Hepatocytes / ultrastructure
  • Malaria / parasitology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Plasmodium / physiology
  • Plasmodium yoelii / growth & development
  • Plasmodium yoelii / physiology*
  • Propidium / metabolism
  • Toxoplasma / physiology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Vacuoles / parasitology
  • Vacuoles / ultrastructure


  • Dextrans
  • fluorescein isothiocyanate dextran
  • Propidium
  • Fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate