'Knocking out' a reproduction- specific gene may help to control parasitic proliferation, says Japanese study.
Malaria, a common disease of the tropics, is caused by the Plasmodium parasites. It is transmitted from person to person by the faithful vector, the anopheline mosquitoes.
The gametocytes are precursors of the male and female sex cells or gametes. The gametocytes of a parasite mature, fertilize and proliferate on being transferred to a mosquito. These cycles of events qualify the mosquito to infect another host.
Scientists have for long considered fertilization as a potent target for vaccines that prevent transmission; but this line of study has not acquired the desired level of success because the underlying mechanisms have not been aptly understood.
For a very long time malarial parasites, that infect rodents, have been used as models for research .
Recently, a group of Japanese researchers have shown that the gene, Generative Cell Specific 1(PbGCS1), inherent to the rodent malarial parasite Plasmodium berghei,
plays a pivotal role in gamete interaction. Now if this gene is 'knocked out', it results in male sterility and failed fertilization.
A similar male -specific role of GCS1 has been observed in the angiosperms, a group of flowering plants. The link established between plants and the parasites is the first of its kind.
This study hopes to discover novel maneuvers to control the deadly malarial parasites that are a constant threat to human life.