Microtubular organization visualized by immunofluorescence microscopy during erythrocytic schizogony in Plasmodium falciparum and investigation of post-translational modifications of parasite tubulin

Parasitology. 1993 Apr;106 ( Pt 3):223-32. doi: 10.1017/s0031182000075041.


We describe a novel procedure for the immunofluorescent investigation of Plasmodium falciparum. This has allowed us to visualize clearly microtubular structures and their changing conformation through the erythrocytic cell-cycle, to the stage of cytodifferentiation leading to merozoite release. The images of spindle development we observed, together with an analysis of nuclear body numbers in large numbers of parasites, indicate that there is an apparent asynchrony in chromosomal multiplication within a single parasite. Using antibodies specific for post-translational modification of alpha-tubulin, we also demonstrate that the C-terminal tyrosine-containing epitope of P. falciparum alpha-tubulin I is similar to that of other organisms. Lysine-40 in the same molecule, a target for highly specific in vivo acetylation in some organisms, is unmodified in the blood stages we examined here. After in vitro acetylation of this residue, however, the epitope to which it contributes was recognized by antibody, showing that the conformation of this part of the molecule is also conserved, despite a lack of primary sequence homology immediately downstream of the target lysine residue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Microtubules / ultrastructure*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / growth & development
  • Plasmodium falciparum / ultrastructure*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*
  • Protozoan Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism*
  • Time Factors
  • Tubulin / isolation & purification
  • Tubulin / metabolism*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Tubulin