Research on the biology of malaria parasites has greatly benefited from the application of reverse genetic technologies, in particular through the analysis of gene deletion mutants and studies on transgenic parasites that express heterologous or mutated proteins. However, transfection in Plasmodium is limited by the paucity of drug-selectable markers that hampers subsequent genetic modification of the same mutant. We report the development of a novel 'gene insertion/marker out' (GIMO) method for two rodent malaria parasites, which uses negative selection to rapidly generate transgenic mutants ready for subsequent modifications. We have created reference mother lines for both P. berghei ANKA and P. yoelii 17XNL that serve as recipient parasites for GIMO-transfection. Compared to existing protocols GIMO-transfection greatly simplifies and speeds up the generation of mutants expressing heterologous proteins, free of drug-resistance genes, and requires far fewer laboratory animals. In addition we demonstrate that GIMO-transfection is also a simple and fast method for genetic complementation of mutants with a gene deletion or mutation. The implementation of GIMO-transfection procedures should greatly enhance Plasmodium reverse-genetic research.
© 2011 Lin et al.