New selectable markers and single crossover integration for the highly versatile Plasmodium knowlesi transfection system

Department of Parasitology, Biomedical Primate Research Centre, P.O. Box 3306, 2280 GH, Rijswijk, The Netherlands.
Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology (Impact Factor: 1.79). 04/2004; 134(1):97-104. DOI: 10.1016/j.molbiopara.2003.10.019
Source: PubMed


Plasmodium knowlesi provides a highly versatile transfection system for malaria, since it enables rapid genetic modification of the parasite both in vivo as well as in vitro. However, it is not possible to perform multiple genetic manipulations within one parasite line because of a lack of selectable markers. In an effort to develop additional selectable markers for this parasite, positive and negative selectable markers that have recently been successfully used in Plasmodium falciparum were tested. It was shown that the positive selectable markers human dihydrofolate reductase (hdhfr), blasticidin S deaminase (bsd) and neomycin phosphotransferase II (neo) all conferred drug resistance to P. knowlesi when introduced as episomes. The plasmid containing the hdhfr selectable marker was not only successfully introduced as circular form, but also as linear fragment, demonstrating for the first time single crossover integration in P. knowlesi. Thymidine kinase was tested for its potential as negative selectable marker and it was shown that recombinant P. knowlesi parasites expressing thymidine kinase from episomes were highly sensitive to ganciclovir compared to wild-type P. knowlesi. The availability of new positive selectable markers and a strong candidate for a negative selectable marker for P. knowlesi, in combination with the opportunity to perform targeted single crossover integration in P. knowlesi, significantly increases the flexibility of this transfection system, making it one of the most versatile systems available for Plasmodium.

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    • "Drug assays were performed in culture flasks or 96-well plates by adding serial drug dilutions to synchronized P. falciparum or P. knowlesi ring-stage cultures as previously described [13,26,27]. Briefly, the concentration range in each of the JC-1 assays was based on the IC50 values, previously obtained using pLDH and hypoxanthine radioactive testing for each drug on the specific parasite strain. "
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    ABSTRACT: Malaria is a major health and socio-economical problem in tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world. Several methodologies have been used to assess parasite viability during the adaption of field strains to culture or the assessment of drug potential, but these are in general not able to provide an accurate real-time assessment of whether parasites are alive or dead. Different commercial dyes and kits were assessed for their potential to allow for the real-time detection of whether a blood stage malaria parasite is dead or alive. Here, a methodology is presented based on the potential-sensitive mitochondrial probe JC-1, which allows for the real-time visualization of live (red staining) and/or dead (absence of red staining) blood stage parasites in vitro and ex vivo. This method is applicable across malaria parasite species and strains and allows to visualize all parasite blood stages including gametocytes. Further, this methodology has been assessed also for use in drug sensitivity testing. The JC-1 staining approach is a versatile methodology that can be used to assess parasite viability during the adaptation of field samples to culture and during drug treatment. It was found to hold promise in the assessment of drugs expected to lead to delayed death phenotypes and it currently being evaluated as a method for the assessment of parasite viability during the adaptation of patient-derived Plasmodium vivax to long-term in vitro culture.
    Malaria Journal 06/2013; 12(1):190. DOI:10.1186/1475-2875-12-190 · 3.11 Impact Factor
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    • "The two rodent malaria parasites cannot be grown in long term in vitro cultures and selection of mutants is therefore carried out in vivo in laboratory rodents, which places constraints on the range of selectable markers that can be used. For example, the combination of puromycin and puromycin acetyl transferase that has been used for in vitro selection of mutants of P.falciparum and P.knowlesi (4,5) cannot be applied in the rodent parasites as the drug is lethal to laboratory animals. Currently only three drug-selectable markers are available for use with rodent malaria parasites. "
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    ABSTRACT: A limitation of transfection of malaria parasites is the availability of only a low number of positive selectable markers for selection of transformed mutants. This is exacerbated for the rodent parasite Plasmodium berghei as selection of mutants is performed in vivo in laboratory rodents. We here report the development and application of a negative selection system based upon transgenic expression of a bifunctional protein (yFCU) combining yeast cytosine deaminase and uridyl phosphoribosyl transferase (UPRT) activity in P.berghei followed by in vivo selection with the prodrug 5-fluorocytosine (5-FC). The combination of yfcu and a positive selectable marker was used to first achieve positive selection of mutant parasites with a disrupted gene in a conventional manner. Thereafter through negative selection using 5-FC, mutants were selected where the disrupted gene had been restored to its original configuration as a result of the excision of the selectable markers from the genome through homologous recombination. This procedure was carried out for a Plasmodium gene (p48/45) encoding a protein involved in fertilization, the function of which had been previously implied through gene disruption alone. Such reversible recombination can therefore be employed for both the rapid analysis of the phenotype by targeted disruption of a gene and further associate phenotype and function by genotype restoration through the use of a single plasmid and a single positive selectable marker. Furthermore the negative selection system may also be adapted to facilitate other procedures such as 'Hit and Run' and 'vector recycling' which in principle will allow unlimited manipulation of a single parasite clone. This is the first demonstration of the general use of yFCU in combination with a positive selectable marker in reverse genetics approaches and it should be possible to adapt its use to many other biological systems.
    Nucleic Acids Research 02/2006; 34(5):e39. DOI:10.1093/nar/gnj033 · 9.11 Impact Factor
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    • "In contrast, it is possible to isolate viable P. knowlesi merozoites that invade red cells in vitro (Ward et al., 1993). Moreover, the availability of culture-adapted P. knowlesi has eliminated the need for access to rhesus macaques making P. knowlesi more accessible for investigation (Wel et al., 2004). We have used the advantages offered by P. knowlesi to directly address the role of EBPs in red cell invasion. "
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    ABSTRACT: Red cell invasion by Plasmodium merozoites involves multiple steps such as attachment, apical reorientation, junction formation and entry into a parasitophorous vacuole. These steps are mediated by specific molecular interactions. P. vivax and the simian parasite P. knowlesi require interaction with the Duffy blood group antigen to invade human erythrocytes. P. vivax and P. knowlesi Duffy binding proteins (PvDBP and PkDBP), which bind the Duffy antigen during invasion, share regions of sequence homology and belong to a family of erythrocyte binding proteins (EBPs). By deletion of the gene that encodes PkDBP, we demonstrate that interaction of PkDBP with the Duffy antigen is absolutely necessary for invasion of human erythrocytes by P. knowlesi. Electron microscopy studies reveal that PkDBP knockout parasites are unable to form a junction with human erythrocytes. The interaction of PkDBP with the Duffy antigen is thus necessary for the critical step of junction formation during invasion. These studies provide support for development of intervention strategies that target EBPs to inhibit junction formation and block erythrocyte invasion by malaria parasites.
    Molecular Microbiology 04/2005; 55(6):1925-34. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2958.2005.04523.x · 4.42 Impact Factor
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