Plasmodium gallinaceum: Critical role for microtubules in the transformation of zygotes into ookinetes

Nirbhay Kumar, Masamichi Aikawa, C. Grotendorst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The role of microtubules and microfilaments in the transformation of spherical zygotes of Plasmodium gallinaceum (avian malaria parasite) into vermiform ookinetes has been studied by using specific drugs (taxol, colchicine, and cytochalasin-B). Both taxol and colchicine completely abolished the transformation of zygotes into ookinetes. The inhibitory effect was seen only if the drugs were added during the initial 6 hr of total time (20-24 hr) required for complete transformation; the addition of drugs after 6-8 hr of initiation of transformation had no effect. Electron microscopy revealed that microtubules were depolymerized by colchicine treatment, whereas in taxol-treated cells there was an extensive array of cytoplasmic and nuclear microtubules which appeared to be clumped in bundles. In contrast to the effects of taxol and colchicine, cytochalasin-B, which affects the microfilament system, had no effect on the transformation. Protein synthesis and expression of two ookinete-specific surface proteins were not affected in the drug-inhibited parasites. Zygotes treated with taxol for 4 hr at room temperature failed to develop into oocysts when they were subsequently fed to mosquitoes. These studies demonstrate a critical role for microtubules in the initial stages of transformation of zygotes into ookinetes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-247
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Parasitology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1985


  • Aedes aegypti
  • Colchicine
  • Electrophoresis
  • Malaria, avian
  • Microtubules
  • Mosquito
  • Ookinete
  • Plasmodium gallinaceum
  • Protozoa, parasitic
  • Taxol
  • Transformation
  • Zygote

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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