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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Plasmodium falciparum ookinete invasion of the midgut epithelium of Anopheles stephensi is consistent with the Time Bomb model.

Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes grown in vitro were fed through membrane feeders to laboratory-reared Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes. Intact midguts, including entire bloodmeal contents, were removed between 24 and 48 h post-bloodfeeding. Giemsa-stained histological sections were prepared from the midguts and examined by light microscopy. Contrary to previous reports, ookinetes were clearly visible within midgut epithelial cells, demonstrating intracellular migration across the midgut wall. Ookinetes entered epithelial cells through the lateral apical membrane at sites where 3 adjacent cells converged. There was no evidence for the existence of a morphologically distinct group of epithelial cells preferentially invaded by ookinetes. However, ookinete penetration was associated with significant morphological changes to invaded cells, including differential staining, condensation and fragmentation of the nucleus, vacuolization, loss of microvilli and various degrees of extrusion into the midgut lumen. Epithelial cells completely separated from the midgut wall were found within the midgut lumen. These cells were associated with invading parasites suggesting that ookinete penetration resulted in complete ejection of invaded cells from the midgut wall. Small clusters of morphologically altered midgut cells and invading parasites spanning the membranes of adjacent abnormal epithelial cells were observed, consistent with intracellular movement of ookinetes between neighbouring midgut cells. Extruded epithelial cells were also observed rarely in uninfected midguts. Epithelial cell extrusion, therefore, may be a general mechanism of tissue repair through which damaged cells are removed from the midgut wall rather than a parasite-specific response. These observations demonstrate that human malaria parasite infection of mosquitoes is consistent with, and provides further support for, the Time Bomb model of ookinete invasion of the mosquito midgut epithelium previously proposed for rodent malaria parasites.[1]


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