Affordable Access

Publisher Website

Wherever I may roam: Protein and membrane trafficking inP. falciparum-infected red blood cells

Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology
DOI: 10.1016/j.molbiopara.2012.09.007
  • Malaria
  • Plasmodium
  • Protein Trafficking
  • Pexel
  • Apicoplast
  • Erythrocyte
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Abstract Quite aside from its immense importance as a human pathogen, studies in recent years have brought to light the fact that the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum is an interesting eukaryotic model system to study protein trafficking. Studying parasite cell biology often reveals an overrepresentation of atypical cell biological features, possibly driven by the parasites’ need to survive in an unusual biological niche. Malaria parasites possess uncommon cellular compartments to which protein traffic must be directed, including secretory organelles such as rhoptries and micronemes, a lysosome-like compartment referred to as the digestive vacuole and a complex (four membrane-bound) plastid, the apicoplast. In addition, the parasite must provide proteins to extracellular compartments and structures including the parasitophorous vacuole, the parasitophorous vacuolar membrane, the Maurer's clefts and both cytosol and plasma membrane of the host cell, the mature human red blood cell. Although some of these unusual destinations are possessed by other cell types, only Plasmodium parasites contain them all within one cell. Here we review what is known about protein and membrane transport in the P. falciparum-infected cell, highlighting novel features of these processes. A growing body of evidence suggests that this parasite is a real “box of tricks” with regards to protein traffic. Possibly, these tricks may be turned against the parasite by exploiting them as novel therapeutic targets.

There are no comments yet on this publication. Be the first to share your thoughts.