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Cell Microbiol. 2005 Apr;7(4):603-9.

HGF/MET signalling protects Plasmodium-infected host cells from apoptosis.

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Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, 2780-156 Oeiras, Portugal.


Plasmodium, the causative agent of malaria, migrates through several hepatocytes before initiating a malaria infection. We have previously shown that this process induces the secretion of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) by traversed cells, which renders neighbour hepatocytes susceptible to infection. The signalling initiated by HGF through its receptor MET has multifunctional effects on various cell types. Our results reveal a major role for apoptosis protection of host cells by HGF/MET signalling on the host susceptibility to infection. Inhibition of HGF/MET signalling induces a specific increase in apoptosis of infected cells leading to a great reduction on infection. Since HGF/MET signalling is capable of protecting cells from apoptosis by using both PI3-kinase/Akt and, to a lesser extent, MAPK pathways, we determined the impact of these pathways on Plasmodium sporozoite infection. Although inhibition of either of these pathways leads to a reduction in infection, inhibition of PI3-kinase/Akt pathway caused a stronger effect, which correlated with a higher level of apoptosis in infected host cells. Altogether, the results show that the HGF/MET signalling requirement for infection is mediated by its anti-apoptotic signal effects. These results demonstrate for the first time that active inhibition of apoptosis in host cell during infection by Plasmodium is required for a successful infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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