Phenotypic Analysis of Rodent Malaria Parasite Asexual and Sexual Blood Stages and Mosquito Stages

This article has been accepted and is currently in production

Abstract

Recent advances in genetics and systems biology technologies have promoted our understanding of the biology of malaria parasites on the molecular level. However, effective malaria parasite targets for vaccine and chemotherapy development are still limited. This is largely due to the unavailability of relevant and practical in vivo infection models for human Plasmodium species, most notably for P. falciparum and P. vivax. Therefore, rodent malaria species have been extensively used as practical alternative in vivo models for malaria vaccine, drug targeting, immune response, and functional characterization studies of conserved Plasmodiumspp. genes. Indeed, rodent malaria models have proven to be invaluable, especially for exploring mosquito transmission and liver stage biology, and were indispensable for immunological studies. However, there are discrepancies in the methods used to evaluate the phenotypes of transgenic and wild-type asexual and sexual blood-stage parasites. Examples of these discrepancies are the choice of an intravenous vs. intraperitoneal infection of rodents with blood-stage parasites and the evaluation of male gamete exflagellation. Herein, we detail standardized experimental methods to evaluate the phenotypes of asexual and sexual blood stages in transgenic parasites expressing reporter-gene or wild-type rodent malaria parasite species. We also detail the methods to evaluate the phenotypes of malaria parasite mosquito stages (gametes, ookinetes, oocysts, and sporozoites) inside Anopheles mosquito vectors. These methods are detailed and simplified here for the lethal and non-lethal strains of P. berghei and P. yoelii but can also be applied with some adjustments to P. chabaudi and P. vinckei rodent malaria species.