Malaria transmission through the mosquito requires the function of the OMD protein

PLoS One. 2019 Sep 25;14(9):e0222226. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0222226. eCollection 2019.


Ookinetes, one of the motile and invasive forms of the malaria parasite, rely on gliding motility in order to establish an infection in the mosquito host. Here we characterize the protein PBANKA_0407300 which is conserved in the Plasmodium genus but lacks significant similarity to proteins of other eukaryotes. It is expressed in gametocytes and throughout the invasive mosquito stages of P. berghei, but is absent from asexual blood stages. Mutants lacking the protein developed morphologically normal ookinetes that were devoid of productive motility although some stretching movement could be detected. We therefore named the protein Ookinete Motility Deficient (OMD). Several key factors known to be involved in motility however were normally expressed and localized in the mutant. Importantly, the mutant failed to establish an infection in the mosquito which resulted in a total malaria transmission blockade.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anopheles / parasitology*
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Malaria / parasitology
  • Malaria / transmission*
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Plasmodium berghei / physiology*
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Protozoan Proteins / physiology*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Protozoan Proteins

Grants and funding

This work was supported by the CellNetworks cluster of Heidelberg University (EXC81; German Research Foundation) through EcTop2 and a postdoctoral fellowship to LL; the European Research Council (ERC-SG 281719) and the EU FP7 research network EVIMalaR to FF; the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) grants PTDC/SAU-MIC/122082/2010 and PTDC/BIA-BCM/105610/2008 to GRM, and SFRH/BPD/72619/2010 to PAGC; the project: “Towards multi-stage drugs to fight poverty related and neglected parasitic diseases: synthetic and natural compounds directed against Leishmania, Plasmodium and Schistosoma life stages and assessment of their mechanisms of action”, funded by the Italian National Research Programme PRIN-2015 to MP; the framework of the BIOSYS research project, Action KRIPIS, project No MIS-448301 (2013SE01380036) funded by the General Secretariat for Research and Technology, Ministry of Education, Greece and the European Regional Development Fund (Sectoral Operational Programme: Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship, NSRF 2007-2013)/European Commission to ISK. CC was supported by a fellowship from the I-MOVE Fellowship Programme - PCOFUND-GA-2010-267332 (Marie Curie). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.