Malaria sporozoite antigen-directed genome-wide response in transgenic Drosophila

Genesis. 2009 Mar;47(3):196-203. doi: 10.1002/dvg.20483.


Malaria kills a million people annually. Understanding the relationship between a causative parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, and the mosquito vector might suggest novel prevention approaches. We created and transformed into Drosophila two genes encoding, thrombospondin-related adhesive protein (TRAP) and circumsporozoite protein (CSP), found on the cell surface of Plasmodium sporozoites. To understand a model insect's response, we induced these proteins separately and together, performing whole genome microarray analysis measuring gene expression changes. Gene ontology classification of responding genes reveals that TRAP and CSP strongly and differentially influence Drosophila genes involved with cell motility and gene regulation, respectively; however, the most striking effects are on the immune system. While immune-related genes are but modestly elevated compared with responses to sepsis, there is a marked repression of the Toll pathway. This suggests: (1) how Plasmodium infection of the mosquito might use TRAP and CSP to modulate the host insect's physiology to promote sporozoite survival and transmission to man and (2) that approaches to elevate expression of the mosquito's Toll pathway might lead to novel methods of malaria prevention.

Publication types

  • Letter
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Antigens, Protozoan / biosynthesis*
  • Antigens, Protozoan / genetics
  • Antigens, Protozoan / immunology
  • Drosophila Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / immunology
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Genome, Insect*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / genetics
  • Plasmodium falciparum / immunology
  • Plasmodium falciparum / metabolism*
  • Protozoan Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Protozoan Proteins / immunology


  • Antigens, Protozoan
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • circumsporozoite protein, Protozoan
  • thrombospondin-related adhesive protein, protozoan