Observation of morphological changes of female osmiophilic bodies prior to Plasmodium gametocyte egress from erythrocytes

Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2020 Mar:236:111261. doi: 10.1016/j.molbiopara.2020.111261. Epub 2020 Jan 22.


Plasmodium parasites cause malaria in mammalian hosts and are transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes. Gametocytes, which differentiate from asexual-stage parasites, are activated by environmental changes when ingested into the mosquito midgut, and are rapidly released from erythrocytes prior to fertilization. Secretory proteins localized to osmiophilic bodies (OBs), organelles unique to gametocytes, have been reported to be involved in female gametocyte egress. In this study, we investigate the dynamics of OBs in activated gametocytes of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium yoelii using the female OB-specific marker protein, G377. After activation, female gametocyte OBs migrate to the parasite surface and fuse to form large vesicles beneath the parasite plasma membrane. At the marginal region of female gametocytes, fused vesicles secrete contents by exocytosis into the parasitophorous vacuole space, prior to parasite egress via the break-down of the erythrocyte membrane. This is the first detailed description of how proteins are transported through osmiophilic bodies.

Keywords: Activated gametocyte; Egress; Female osmiophilic body; G377; Plasmodium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Erythrocytes / parasitology
  • Malaria / parasitology
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron / methods
  • Organelles / metabolism
  • Organelles / ultrastructure
  • Plasmodium falciparum* / metabolism
  • Plasmodium falciparum* / ultrastructure
  • Plasmodium yoelii* / metabolism
  • Plasmodium yoelii* / ultrastructure
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism
  • Protozoan Proteins / ultrastructure*


  • Protozoan Proteins