Send to

Choose Destination
Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2009 Jun;165(2):111-21. doi: 10.1016/j.molbiopara.2009.01.012. Epub 2009 Jan 30.

The reticulocyte binding-like proteins of P. knowlesi locate to the micronemes of merozoites and define two new members of this invasion ligand family.

Author information

Emory Vaccine Center, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA.


Members of the reticulocyte binding-like protein (RBL) family are merozoite-expressed proteins hypothesized to be essential for effective invasion of host erythrocytes. Proteins of the RBL family were first defined as merozoite invasion ligands in Plasmodium vivax, and subsequently in Plasmodium falciparum and other malaria parasite species. Comparative studies are providing insights regarding the complexity and evolution of this family and the existence of possible functionally alternative members. Here, we report the experimental and bioinformatic characterization of two new rbl genes in the simian malaria parasite species Plasmodium knowlesi. Experimental analyses confirm that a P. knowlesi gene fragment orthologous to P. vivax reticulocyte binding protein-1 (pvrbp1) represents a highly degenerated pseudogene in the H strain as well as two other P. knowlesi strains. Our data also confirm that a gene orthologous to pvrbp2 is not present in the P. knowlesi genome. However, two very diverse but related functional rbl genes are present and are reported here as P. knowlesi normocyte binding protein Xa and Xb (pknbpxa and pknbpxb). Analysis of these two rbl genes in Southern hybridizations and BLAST searches established their relationship to newly identified members of the RBL family in P. vivax and other species of simian malaria. Rabbit antisera specific for recombinant PkNBPXa and PkNBPXb confirmed expression of the prospective high molecular weight proteins and localized these proteins to the apical end of merozoites. Their precise location, as determined by immuno-electron microscopy (IEM), was found to be within the microneme organelles. Importantly, PkNBPXa and PkNBPXb are shown here to bind to host erythrocytes, and discussion is centered on the importance of these proteins in host cell invasion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center