The malaria life cycle relies on the successful transfer of the parasite between its human and mosquito hosts. We identified a Plasmodium berghei secreted protein (PBANKA_131270) that plays distinct roles in both the mammal-to-mosquito and the mosquito-to-mammal transitions. This protein, here named gamete egress and sporozoite traversal (GEST), plays an important role in the egress of male and female gametes from the vertebrate red blood cell. Interestingly, GEST is also required following the bite of the infected mosquito, for sporozoite progression through the skin. We found PbGEST to be secreted shortly after activation of the intraerythrocytic gametocyte, and during sporozoite migration. These findings indicate that a single malaria protein may have pleiotropic roles in different parasites stages mediating transmission between its insect and mammalian hosts.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.