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Cell Host Microbe. 2008 Sep 11;4(3):271-82. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2008.07.012.

Host scavenger receptor SR-BI plays a dual role in the establishment of malaria parasite liver infection.

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Unidade de Malária, Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Universidade de Lisboa, 1649-028 Lisboa, Portugal.


An obligatory step of malaria parasite infection is Plasmodium sporozoite invasion of host hepatocytes, and host lipoprotein clearance pathways have been linked to Plasmodium liver infection. By using RNA interference to screen lipoprotein-related host factors, we show here that the class B, type I scavenger receptor (SR-BI) is the strongest regulator of Plasmodium infection among these factors. Inhibition of SR-BI function reduced P. berghei infection in Huh7 cells, and overexpression of SR-BI led to increased infection. In vivo silencing of liver SR-BI expression in mice and inhibition of SR-BI activity in human primary hepatocytes reduced infection by P. berghei and by P. falciparum, respectively. Heterozygous SR-BI(+/-) mice displayed reduced P. berghei infection rates correlating with liver SR-BI expression levels. Additional analyses revealed that SR-BI plays a dual role in Plasmodium infection, affecting both sporozoite invasion and intracellular parasite development, and may therefore constitute a good target for malaria prophylaxis.

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