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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 976827, 11 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2010/976827
Review Article

The Coming-Out of Malaria Gametocytes

Research Center for Infectious Diseases, University of Würzburg, Josef-Schneider-Strasse 2, Building D15, 97080 Würzburg, Germany

Received 27 July 2009; Accepted 5 October 2009

Academic Editor: Abhay R. Satoskar

Copyright © 2010 Andrea Kuehn and Gabriele Pradel. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The tropical disease malaria, which results in more than one million deaths annually, is caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Plasmodium and transmitted by blood-feeding Anopheline mosquitoes. Parasite transition from the human host to the mosquito vector is mediated by gametocytes, sexual stages that are formed in human erythrocytes, which therefore play a crucial part in the spread of the tropical disease. The uptake by the blood-feeding mosquito triggers important molecular and cellular changes in the gametocytes, thus mediating the rapid adjustment of the parasite from the warm-blooded host to the insect host and subsequently initiating reproduction. The contact with midgut factors triggers gametocyte activation and results in their egress from the enveloping erythrocyte, which then leads to gamete formation and fertilization. This review summarizes recent findings on the role of gametocytes during transmission to the mosquito and particularly focuses on the molecular mechanisms underlying gametocyte activation and emergence from the host erythrocyte during gametogenesis.