Vγ9Vδ2 T cells proliferate in response to phosphoantigens released from erythrocytes infected with asexual and gametocyte stage Plasmodium falciparum

Chenxiao Liua, S. Noushin Emami, Jean Pettersson, Lisa Ranford-Cartwright, Ingrid Faye, Ingela Parmryd

Accepted 20 August 2018

Vγ9Vδ2 T cells, the dominant γδ T cell subset in human peripheral blood, are stimulated by phosphoantigens, of which (E)-4-Hydroxy-3-methyl-but-2-enyl pyrophosphate, is produced in the apicoplast of malaria parasites. Cell-free media from synchronised Plasmodium  falciparum asexual ring, trophozoite, and schizont stage-cultures of high purity as well as media from ruptured schizont cultures, all stimulated Vγ9Vδ2 T cell proliferation, as did media from pure gametocyte cultures, whereas media from uninfected erythrocytes cultures did not. The media from ruptured schizont cultures and all the asexual and gametocyte stage cultures contained only background iron levels, suggesting that all erythrocyte haemoglobin is consumed as the parasites develop and supporting that the phosphoantigens were released from intact parasitized erythrocytes. The Vγ9Vδ2 T cell-stimulating agent was not affected by freezing, thawing or heating but was sensitive to phosphatase treatment, confirming its phosphoantigen identity. In summary, phosphoantigens are released from parasitised  erythrocytes at all developmental blood stages.