Plasmodium sporozoites are the highly motile forms of malaria-causing parasites that are transmitted by the mosquito to the vertebrate host. Sporozoites need to enter and cross several cellular and tissue barriers for which they employ a set of surface proteins. Three of these proteins are members of the thrombospondin related anonymous protein (TRAP) family. Here, potential additive, synergistic or antagonistic roles of these adhesion proteins were investigated.
Malaria vaccine candidates based on live, attenuated sporozoites have led to high levels of protection. However, their efficacy critically depends on the sporozoites' ability to reach and infect the host liver. Administration via mosquito inoculation is by far the most potent method for inducing immunity but highly impractical. Here, we observed that intradermal syringe-injected Plasmodium berghei sporozoites (syrSPZ) were 3-fold less efficient in migrating to and infecting mouse liver than mosquito-inoculated sporozoites (msqSPZ).
Despite the critical role of Plasmodium sporozoites in malaria transmission, we still know little about the mechanisms underlying their development in mosquitoes. Here, we use single-cell RNA sequencing to characterize the gene expression profiles of 16,038 Plasmodium berghei sporozoites isolated throughout their development from midgut oocysts to salivary glands, and from forced salivation experiments.
In vector control, it is widely accepted that killing adult mosquitoes would sharply reduce the proportion of old mosquitoes and cause the greatest changes to malaria transmission. The principle is based on a mathematical model of the sporozoite rate (the proportion of infective mosquitoes) that emphasized changes in mosquito age.
In the malaria-causing parasite's life cycle, Plasmodium sporozoites must travel from the midgut of a mosquito to the salivary glands before they can infect a mammalian host. However, only a fraction of sporozoites complete the journey. Since salivary gland invasion is required for transmission of sporozoites, insights at the molecular level can contribute to strategies for malaria prevention.
Plasmodium falciparum causes the deadliest form of malaria, which remains one of the most prevalent infectious diseases. Unfortunately, the only licensed vaccine showed limited protection and resistance to anti-malarial drug is increasing, which can be largely attributed to the biological complexity of the parasite’s life cycle. The progression from one developmental stage to another in P. falciparum involves drastic changes in gene expressions, where its infectivity to human hosts varies greatly depending on the stage. Approaches to identify candidate genes that are responsible for the development of infectivity to human hosts typically involve differential gene expression analysis between stages. However, the detection may be limited to annotated proteins and open reading frames (ORFs) predicted using restrictive criteria.
An effective vaccine against malaria forms a global health priority. Both naturally acquired immunity and sterile protection induced by irradiated sporozoite immunization were described decades ago. Still no vaccine exists that sufficiently protects children in endemic areas. Identifying immunological correlates of vaccine efficacy can inform rational vaccine design and potentially accelerate clinical development.
Diverse vaccination outcomes and protection levels among different populations pose a serious challenge to the development of an effective malaria vaccine. Co-infections are among many factors associated with immune dysfunction and sub-optimal vaccination outcomes. Chronic, asymptomatic viral infections can contribute to the modulation of vaccine efficacy through various mechanisms. Human Pegivirus-1 (HPgV-1) persists in immune cells thereby potentially modulating immune responses. We investigated whether Pegivirus infection influences vaccine-induced responses and protection in African volunteers undergoing whole P. falciparum sporozoites-based malaria vaccination and controlled human malaria infections (CHMI).
Malaria remains a major cause of mortality in the world, and an efficient vaccine is the best chance of reducing the disease burden. Vaccination strategies for the liver stage of disease that utilise injection of living radiation-attenuated sporozoites (RAS) confer sterile immunity, which is mediated by CD8+ memory T cells, with liver-resident memory T cells (TRM ) being particularly important. We have previously described a TCR transgenic mouse, termed PbT-I, where all CD8+ T cells recognize a specific peptide from Plasmodium. PbT-I form liver TRM cells upon RAS injection and are capable of protecting mice against challenge infection.
Infants and young children are the groups at greatest risk for severe disease resulting from Plasmodium falciparum infection. We previously demonstrated in mice that a protein vaccine composed of the chemokine macrophage inflammatory protein 3α genetically fused to the minimally truncated circumsporozoite protein of P. falciparum (MCSP) elicits high concentrations of specific antibody and significant reduction of liver sporozoite load in a mouse model system.