Dual fluorescent P. cynomolgi reporter line and hypnozoite reactivation
Malaria is characterized by repeated episodes of blood stage infection (relapses) resulting from activation of dormant stages in the liver, so-called hypnozoites. Transition of hypnozoites into developing schizonts has never been observed. A barrier for studying this has been the lack of a system in which to monitor growth of liver stages. Here, exploiting the unique strengths of the simian hypnozoite model , we have developed green-fluorescent (GFP) hypnozoites that turn on red-fluorescent (mCherry) upon activation. The transgenic parasites show full liver stage development, including merozoite release and red blood cell infection. We demonstrate that individual hypnozoites actually can activate and resume development after prolonged culture, providing the last missing evidence of the hypnozoite theory of relapse. The few events identified indicate that hypnozoite activation in vitro is infrequent. This system will further our understanding of the mechanisms of hypnozoite activation and may facilitate drug discovery approaches.