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Dynamics of DNA Replication during Male Gametogenesis in the Malaria Parasite Plasmodium Falciparum

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Matthews, Holly 
McDonald, Jennifer 
Totanes, Francis 
Merrick, Catherine 


Malaria parasites undergo a single phase of sexual reproduction in their complex lifecycle. It involves specialised, sexually committed cells called gametocytes, which develop rapidly into mature gametes and mate upon entering the mosquito midgut. Gamete development is unique, involving unprecedentedly fast replication to produce male gametes. Within ~15 minutes a male gametocyte replicates its ~23 Mb genome three times to produce 8 genomes, segregates these into newly-assembled flagellated gametes and releases them to seek female gametes. Here, for the first time, we use fluorescent labelling of de novo DNA synthesis to follow this process at the whole-cell and single-molecule levels. We make several novel observations, including characterising the origin recognition complex protein Orc1 for the first time in gametocytes, finding that cytokinesis is uncoupled from DNA replication (implying a lack of cell cycle checkpoints), and that the single-molecule dynamics of DNA replication are entirely different from the dynamics in asexual schizogony.



3107 Microbiology, 31 Biological Sciences, Infectious Diseases, Malaria, Rare Diseases, Vector-Borne Diseases, Genetics, 2.2 Factors relating to the physical environment, Infection, 3 Good Health and Well Being

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European Research Council (725126)
ERC grant 'Plasmocycle' to CJM