Electron microscopic analysis of circumsporozoite protein trail formation by gliding malaria sporozoites

J Protozool. Nov-Dec 1992;39(6):663-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1550-7408.1992.tb04446.x.


Immunoelectron microscopic techniques were utilized to characterize the morphology of circumsporozoite protein-containing trails deposited on various substrates by gliding Plasmodium berghei and Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites. The basic components of the trails are beadlike particles, 25 to 90 nm in diameter, which are devoid of unit membrane and have an electron-lucent center. Trails were captured on formvar-covered grids coated with anticircumsporozoite protein monoclonal antibodies and compared with trails produced on uncoated formvar; the results suggest that material containing circumsporozoite protein forms the matrix within which the particles are embedded. The trails exhibit morphological features similar to those displayed by circumsporozoite precipitation reactions; of note is the demonstration of sheaths of circumsporozoite protein-containing material that emanate from sporozoites prior to their gliding. The sheaths narrow into accumulations of electron-dense material, which eventually taper to form typical trails. The structural manifestation of sheaths and other morphological details of the formed trails enables us to correlate sporozoite behavior during trail formation with the motile actions of gliding sporozoites observed by light microscopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Protozoan / ultrastructure*
  • Cell Movement
  • Chemical Precipitation
  • Plasmodium falciparum / growth & development
  • Plasmodium falciparum / physiology
  • Plasmodium falciparum / ultrastructure*
  • Protozoan Proteins*


  • Antigens, Protozoan
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • circumsporozoite protein, Protozoan