Cytoskeletal dynamics across the malaria parasite lifecycle
Cell movement occurs throughout the malaria parasite lifecycle. However, each stage has unique properties that make them of interest to study separate questions relating to the process of general motility or cell invasion. Merozoites, blood stage parasites, really only invade with little evidence that they can glide across substrates. Ookinetes - the stage in the mosquito midgut - glide beautifully but do not invade the midgut wall, instead traversing it on their way to forming an extra-epithelial cyst. Sporozoites, the stage responsible for re-infection of the human host, are jacks-of-all-trades, being able to glide and invade cells. Using the mouse malaria Plasmodium berghei as a model for human malaria, we are undertaking fluorescence imaging of the core actin regulators and exploring their localisation and function throughout the lifecycle. This work is being undertaken in collaboration with the laboratory of Professor Geoff McFadden at the University of Melbourne School of Botany and Professor Robert Sinden at Imperial College London, UK.