Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 33619283
Link to DOI – 412710.1038/s41598-021-82914-w
Sci Rep 2021 Feb; 11(1): 4127
In the malaria-causing parasite’s life cycle, Plasmodium sporozoites must travel from the midgut of a mosquito to the salivary glands before they can infect a mammalian host. However, only a fraction of sporozoites complete the journey. Since salivary gland invasion is required for transmission of sporozoites, insights at the molecular level can contribute to strategies for malaria prevention. Recent advances in single-cell RNA sequencing provide an opportunity to assess sporozoite heterogeneity at a resolution unattainable by bulk RNA sequencing methods. In this study, we use a droplet-based single-cell RNA sequencing workflow to analyze the transcriptomes of over 8000 Plasmodium berghei sporozoites derived from the midguts and salivary glands of Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes. The detection of known marker genes confirms the successful capture and sequencing of samples composed of a mixed population of sporozoites. Using data integration, clustering, and trajectory analyses, we reveal differences in gene expression profiles of individual sporozoites, and identify both annotated and unannotated markers associated with sporozoite development. Our work highlights the utility of a high-throughput workflow for the transcriptomic profiling of Plasmodium sporozoites, and provides new insights into gene usage during the parasite’s development in the mosquito.