Functional Studies of Novel Mosquito Stage-Specific Genes in the Malaria Parasite, Plasmodium Berghei.

Publication Year:
2017
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Repository URL:
https://ecommons.luc.edu/luc_theses/3684
Author(s):
Kiernan, Kaitlyn
Tags:
CRISPR/Cas9; Malaria; Microtubules; Ookinete; Plasmodium; Transmission; Cellular and Molecular Physiology
thesis / dissertation description
The development and survival of the malaria parasite Plasmodium within its mosquito vector is not very well understood. When the parasite is taken up by an Anopheles mosquito, it is exposed to digestive enzymes, reactive oxygen species, increasing pH, decreasing temperature, and a diverse microbial flora. Our lab is studying the adaptive mechanisms underlying parasite survival in this hostile environment, one of which is movement out of the midgut. In order to escape the midgut, the parasite develops into an elongated, motile form called the ookinete. I am investigating two genes, thioredoxin-like protein 1 (trxl-1) and subpellicular microtubule protein 1 (spm-1) that are specifically upregulated during the development into an ookinete. Based on our own previous findings and other literature in a related protozoan parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, I hypothesize that these genes are important for the generation and maintenance of the essential polar shape of the ookinete. In order to determine the function of these genes, I used the CRISPR/Cas9 system to generate trxl1KO and spm1KO transgenic parasite lines. The results of this study are presented in this thesis.