Proteomic profiling of Plasmodium sporozoite maturation identifies new proteins essential for parasite development and infectivity.
Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites that develop and mature inside an Anopheles mosquito initiate a malaria infection in humans. Here we report the first proteomic comparison of different parasite stages from the mosquito -- early and late oocysts containing midgut sporozoites, and the mature, infectious salivary gland sporozoites. Despite the morphological similarity between midgut and salivary gland sporozoites, their proteomes are markedly different, in agreement with their increase in hepatocyte infectivity. The different sporozoite proteomes contain a large number of stage specific proteins whose annotation suggest an involvement in sporozoite maturation, motility, infection of the human host and associated metabolic adjustments. Analyses of proteins identified in the P. falciparum sporozoite proteomes by orthologous gene disruption in the rodent malaria parasite, P. berghei, revealed three previously uncharacterized Plasmodium proteins that appear to be essential for sporozoite development at distinct points of maturation in the mosquito. This study sheds light on the development and maturation of the malaria parasite in an Anopheles mosquito and also identifies proteins that may be essential for sporozoite infectivity to humans.