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Biotechnol J. 2009 Jun;4(6):888-94. doi: 10.1002/biot.200900058.

3-D analysis of the Plasmodium falciparum Maurer's clefts using different electron tomographic approaches.

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Hygiene Institut, Abteilung Parasitologie, Universitätsklinikum Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.


The human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum exports a large number of proteins into its host erythrocyte to install functions necessary for parasite survival. Important structural components of the export machinery are membrane profiles of parasite origin, termed Maurer's clefts. These profiles span much of the distance between the parasite and the host cell periphery and are believed to deliver P. falciparum-encoded proteins to the erythrocyte plasma membrane. Although discovered more than a century ago, Maurer's clefts remain a mysterious organelle with little information available regarding their origin, their morphology or their precise role in protein trafficking. Here, we evaluated different techniques to prepare samples for electron tomography, including whole cell cryo-preparations, vitreous sections, freeze-substitution and chemical fixation. Our data show that the different approaches tested all have their merits, revealing different aspects of the complex structure of the Maurer's clefts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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