An intrinsic oscillator drives the blood stage cycle of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.
The blood stage of the infection of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum exhibits a 48-hour developmental cycle that culminates in the synchronous release of parasites from red blood cells, which triggers 48-hour fever cycles in the host. This cycle could be driven extrinsically by host circadian processes or by a parasite-intrinsic oscillator. To distinguish between these hypotheses, we examine the P. falciparum cycle in an in vitro culture system and show that the parasite has molecular signatures associated with circadian and cell cycle oscillators. Each of the four strains examined has a different period, which indicates strain-intrinsic period control. Finally, we demonstrate that parasites have low cell-to-cell variance in cycle period, on par with a circadian oscillator. We conclude that an intrinsic oscillator maintains Plasmodium's rhythmic life cycle.
Smith, LM; Motta, FC; Chopra, G; Moch, JK; Nerem, RR; Cummins, B; Roche, KE; Kelliher, CM; Leman, AR; Harer, J; Gedeon, T; Waters, NC; Haase, SB
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