According to scientific recommendations, paratransgenesis is one of the solutions for improving the effectiveness of the Global Malaria Eradication Programme. In paratransgenesis, symbiont microorganisms are used for distorting or blocking the parasite life-cycle, affecting the fitness and longevity of vectors or reducing the vectorial competence. It has been revealed recently that bacteria could be used as potent tools for double stranded RNA production and delivery to insects. Moreover, findings showed that RNase III mutant bacteria are more competent for this aim. Asaia spp. have been introduced as potent paratransgenesis candidates for combating malaria and, based on their specific features for this goal, could be considered as effective dsRNA production and delivery tools to Anopheles spp. Therefore, we decided to characterize the rnc gene and its related protein to provide the basic required information for creating an RNase III mutant Asaia bacterium.
The lack of endogenous RNAi machinery in the malaria parasite Plasmodium hampers gene annotation and hence antimalarial drug and vaccine development. Here, we engineered rodent Plasmodium berghei to express a minimal, non-canonical RNAi machinery that solely requires Argonaute 2 (Ago2) and a modified short hairpin RNA, so-called AgoshRNA. Using this strategy, we achieved robust and specific gene knockdown throughout the entire parasite life cycle. We also successfully silenced the endogenous gene perforin-like protein 2, phenocopying a full gene knockout.