Ookinete gliding motility is essential for penetration of the mosquito midgut wall and transmission of malaria parasites. Cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) signaling has been implicated in ookinete gliding. However, the upstream mechanism of how the parasites activate cGMP signaling and thus initiate ookinete gliding remains unknown. Using real-time imaging to visualize Plasmodium yoelii guanylate cyclase β (GCβ), we show that cytoplasmic GCβ translocates and polarizes to the parasite plasma membrane at "ookinete extrados site" (OES) during zygote-to-ookinete differentiation. The polarization of enzymatic active GCβ at OES initiates gliding of matured ookinete. Both the P4-ATPase-like domain and guanylate cyclase domain are required for GCβ polarization and ookinete gliding. CDC50A, a co-factor of P4-ATPase, binds to and stabilizes GCβ during ookinete development. Screening of inner membrane complex proteins identifies ISP1 as a key molecule that anchors GCβ/CDC50A complex at the OES of mature ookinetes. This study defines a spatial-temporal mechanism for the initiation of ookinete gliding, where GCβ polarization likely elevates local cGMP levels and activates cGMP-dependent protein kinase signaling.
Keywords: Plasmodium; cGMP; guanylate cyclase; malaria; mosquito; motility; ookinete; signal transduction.
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