A female gametocyte-specific ABC transporter plays a role in lipid metabolism in the malaria parasite

Nat Commun. 2014 Sep 8;5:4773. doi: 10.1038/ncomms5773.


ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters serve a variety of physiological functions as well as play key roles in drug resistance. The genome of the human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, encodes multiple members of this family, one of which, gABCG2, is transcribed predominantly in the gametocyte stage. Here we use gene deletion and tagging to investigate the expression, localization and function of gABCG2. The protein is found in a single dot-like lipid-rich structure within female, but not male, gametocytes. gABCG2-knockout cell lines produce more gametocytes of both sexes. By contrast, cholesteryl esters, diacylglycerols and triacylglycerols are significantly reduced in gABCG2-knockout gametocyte stages. We propose a role for gABCG2 in the regulation of gametocyte numbers and in the accumulation of neutral lipids, which are likely important for parasite development in the insect stages of the parasite life cycle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / genetics*
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / metabolism
  • Female
  • Germ Cells / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Life Cycle Stages
  • Lipid Metabolism / genetics*
  • Malaria, Falciparum / parasitology
  • Malaria, Falciparum / transmission
  • Male
  • Plasmodium falciparum / genetics*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / growth & development
  • Plasmodium falciparum / metabolism
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics*
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Protozoan Proteins