Development of an Editable Approach to the Study Parasite-Erythroid Interactions
Document TypeMasters Research thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2022-11-24.
© 2020 Jingyu Jiang
Malaria remains responsible for an enormous health burden worldwide; considerable research effort is being devoted to finding ways to combat the disease and its transmission. Malaria is caused by Plasmodium species, and P. falciparum causes the most serious disease. The blood stage of the P. falciparum remains critically important to understand for development of treatments and vaccines. To initiate invasion, the P. falciparum merozoite recognises specific proteins on the host red cell membrane, known as invasion receptors. In order to study parasite–host interactions, laboratory adapted P. falciparum strains that invade mature human red cells have been used. Gene modification methods are well established for P. falciparum; however, genetic manipulation of the red cell has not been extensively applied because erythrocytes are not nucleated. The in vitro cultivation of erythroid cell lines facilitates both the scalable production of host cells to support P. falciparum invasion and editing of nucleated precursors that can be genetically modified in a precise manner. In this project, two erythroid cell lines – the Human Umbilical cord blood Derived Erythroid Progenitors (HUDEP-2) and the Bristol Erythroid Line- Adult (BEL-A), both of which can differentiate to more mature forms in vitro – were studied as possible host models. A FACS antibody panel, based on the stage-specific profile of HUDEP-2 and BEL-A cells, provided the means to analyse host invasion receptors as well as erythroid maturation markers. Band 3 is a red cell membrane protein with an uncertain role in merozoite invasion. A gene knockout was constructed in expansion stage BEL-A cells using the lentiviral CRISPR/Cas9 system, targeting band 3 which may be involved in merozoite invasion of human erythrocytes. Single-cell-derived clones were isolated and preliminary validation using PCR and flow cytometry was performed to verify disruption of band 3. Completion of work to validate and functionally characterise the band 3 knockout, and experiments to assess effects on invasion, were curtailed by COVID-19 stay-at-home orders issued to Melbourne between March and July 2020. In summary, a genetically editable in vitro erythroid model was defined to study the function of host invasion receptors for P. falciparum merozoite invasion. Clonal band 3- deficient BEL-A cells were generated, thus paving the way for studying their role as invasion receptors.
KeywordsP. falciparum; erythroid cell lines; invasion; CRISPR knock out
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