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Cell Microbiol. 2010 May 1;12(5):580-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-5822.2010.01455.x. Epub 2010 Feb 19.

New insights into protein export in malaria parasites.

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  • 1Strategic Research Centre for Molecular and Medical Research, Deakin University, Waurn Ponds, Vic., Australia.


In order to survive and promote its virulence the malaria parasite must export hundreds of its proteins beyond an encasing vacuole and membrane into the host red blood cell. In the last few years, several major advances have been made that have significantly contributed to our understanding of this export process. These include: (i) the identification of sequences that direct protein export (a signal sequence and a motif termed PEXEL), which have allowed predictions of the exportomes of Plasmodium species that are the cause of malaria, (ii) the recognition that the fate of proteins destined for export is already decided within the parasite's endoplasmic reticulum and involves the PEXEL motif being recognized and cleaved by the aspartic protease plasmepsin V and (iii) the discovery of the Plasmodium translocon of exported proteins (PTEX) that is responsible for the passage of proteins across the vacuolar membrane. We review protein export in Plasmodium and these latest developments in the field that have now provided a new platform from which trafficking of malaria proteins can be dissected.

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