Multiple genetic loci define Ca ++ utilization by bloodstream malaria parasites

Liana Apolis, Joanna Olivas, Prakash Srinivasan, Ambuj K. Kushwaha, Sanjay A. Desai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Bloodstream malaria parasites require Ca ++ for their development, but the sites and mechanisms of Ca ++ utilization are not well understood. We hypothesized that there may be differences in Ca ++ uptake or utilization by genetically distinct lines of P. falciparum. These differences, if identified, may provide insights into molecular mechanisms. Results: Dose response studies with the Ca ++ chelator EGTA (ethylene glycol-bis(β-aminoethyl ether)-N,N,N′,N′-tetraacetic acid) revealed stable differences in Ca ++ requirement for six geographically divergent parasite lines used in previous genetic crosses, with the largest difference seen between the parents of the HB3 x Dd2 cross. Genetic mapping of Ca ++ requirement yielded complex inheritance in 34 progeny clones with a single significant locus on chromosome 7 and possible contributions from other loci. Although encoded by a gene in the significant locus and a proposed Ca ++ target, PfCRT (P. falciparum chloroquine resistance transporter), the primary determinant of clinical resistance to the antimalarial drug chloroquine, does not appear to contribute to this quantitative trait. Stage-specific application of extracellular EGTA also excluded determinants associated with merozoite egress and erythrocyte reinvasion. Conclusions: We have identified differences in Ca ++ utilization amongst P. falciparum lines. These differences are under genetic regulation, segregating as a complex trait in genetic cross progeny. Ca ++ uptake and utilization throughout the bloodstream asexual cycle of malaria parasites represents an unexplored target for therapeutic intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number47
JournalBMC genomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 16 2019


  • Antimalarial drug targets
  • Calcium
  • EGTA
  • Linkage analysis
  • Malaria
  • Merozoite invasion
  • Plasmodium falciparum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics


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