Malaria remains a heavy global burden on human health, and it is important to understand the molecular and cellular biology of the parasite to find targets for drug and vaccine development. The mouse malaria model is an essential tool to characterize the function of identified molecules; however, robust technologies for targeted gene deletions are still poorly developed for the widely used rodent malaria parasite, Plasmodium yoelii. To overcome this problem, we established a DiCre-loxP inducible knockout (iKO) system in P. yoelii, which showed more than 80% excision efficacy of the target locus and more than 90% reduction of locus transcripts 24 h (one cell cycle) after RAP administration. Using this developed system, cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKAc) was inducibly disrupted and the phenotypes of the resulting PKAc-iKO parasites were analyzed. We found that PKAc-iKO parasites showed severe growth and erythrocyte invasion defects. We also found that disruption of PKAc impaired the secretion of AMA1 in P. yoelii, in contrast to a report showing no role of PKAc in AMA1 secretion in P. falciparum. This discrepancy may be related to the difference in the timing of AMA1 distribution to the merozoite surface, which occurs just after egress for P. falciparum, but after several minutes for P. yoelii. Secretions of PyEBL, Py235, and RON2 were not affected by the disruption of PKAc in P. yoelii. PyRON2 was already secreted to the merozoite surface immediately after merozoite egress, which is inconsistent with the current model that RON2 is injected into the erythrocyte cytosol. Further investigations are required to understand the role of RON2 exposed on the merozoite surface.
Keywords: DiCre; Inducible knockout; Malaria; Plasmodium yoelii; Rhoptry neck protein 2; cAMP-dependent protein kinase.
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