FLP/FRT-mediated conditional mutagenesis in pre-erythrocytic stages of Plasmodium berghei

Nat Protoc. 2011 Aug 25;6(9):1412-28. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2011.363.


We describe here a highly efficient procedure for conditional mutagenesis in Plasmodium. The procedure uses the site-specific recombination FLP-FRT system of yeast and targets the pre-erythrocytic stages of the rodent Plasmodium parasite P. berghei, including the sporozoite stage and the subsequent liver stage. The technique consists of replacing the gene under study by an FRTed copy (i.e., flanked by FRT sites) in the erythrocytic stages of a parasite clone that expresses the flip (FLP) recombinase stage-specifically--called the 'deleter' clone. We present the available deleter clones, which express FLP at different times of the parasite life cycle, as well as the schemes and tools for constructing new deleter parasites. We also outline and discuss the various strategies for exchanging a wild-type gene with an FRTed copy and for generating conditional gene knockout or knockdown parasite clones. Finally, we detail the protocol for obtaining sporozoites that lack a protein of interest and for monitoring sporozoite-specific DNA excision and depletion of the target protein. The protocol should allow the functional analysis of any essential protein in the sporozoite, liver stage or hepatic merozoite stages of rodent Plasmodium parasites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anopheles / parasitology
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Genetic Engineering / methods*
  • Mice
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed / methods*
  • Plasmodium berghei / genetics*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Sporozoites / physiology