Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 23892177
Link to DOI – 10.1016/j.parint.2013.07.009
Parasitol Int 2014 Feb; 63(1): 237-44
Plasmodium sporozoites are able to migrate through host cells by breaching their plasma membrane and gliding inside their cytoplasm. This migratory activity, called cell traversal (CT), was studied in vivo mainly using mutant sporozoites lacking the ability to wound host cells, and thus to perform CT. However, direct evidence of CT activity in host tissues by wild-type sporozoites remains scarce. Here, we describe a double-wounding assay to dynamically image CT activity in vivo and monitor cell membrane integrity over time. Based on the incorporation kinetics of a first live cell-impermeant dye, propidium iodide, we could determine whether traversed cells repair their wounded membranes or not. A second impermeant dye, SYTOX Green, was used to confirm the transient or the permanent loss of membrane integrity of traversed cells. This assay allowed, for the first time, the direct observation of sporozoites wounding and traversing host skin cells and showed that, while some traversed cells resealed their membrane, most became irreversibly permeable to these live cell-impermeant dyes. In combination with the study of CT-deficient sporozoites and the use of specific host cell markers, this intravital assay will provide the means to identify the nature of the cells traversed by sporozoites and will thus contribute to elucidating the role of CT by apicomplexan parasites in the vertebrate host.