Plasmodium sporozoites are the infective forms of the malaria parasite in the mosquito and vertebrate host. Gliding motility allows sporozoites to migrate and invade mosquito salivary glands and mammalian hosts. Motility and invasion are powered by an actin–myosin motor complex linked to the glideosome, which contains glideosome-associated proteins (GAPs), MyoA and the myosin A tail-interacting protein (MTIP). However, the role of several proteins involved in gliding motility remains unknown. We identified that the S14 gene is upregulated in sporozoite from transcriptome data of Plasmodium yoelii and further confirmed its transcription in P. berghei sporozoites using real-time PCR. C-terminal 3×HA–mCherry tagging revealed that S14 is expressed and localized on the inner membrane complex of the sporozoites. We disrupted S14 in P. berghei and demonstrated that it is essential for sporozoite gliding motility, and salivary gland and hepatocyte invasion. The gliding and invasion-deficient S14 knockout sporozoites showed normal expression and organization of inner membrane complex and surface proteins. Taken together, our data show that S14 plays a role in the function of the glideosome and is essential for malaria transmission.

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