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Blood Cells. 1990;16(2-3):257-92; discussion 293-7.

The ultrastructure of red cell invasion in malaria infections: a review.

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Department of Anatomy, United Medical School, Guy's Hospital, London, UK.


Within the circulation, the invasive stage of Plasmodium is the merozoite, a small elliptical cell. Electron microscopy shows that the merozoite can attach reversibly to erythrocytes by its adhesive coat, then form a close, irreversible contact by its apical end, triggering secretion from membranous vesicles (rhoptries and micronemes) on to the erythrocyte membrane. This causes the erythrocyte membrane to invaginate and the merozoite then becomes enclosed within a cavity lined by interiorized membrane. In uninfected erythrocytes, the surface membrane consists of a lipid bilayer in which lie various integral membrane proteins and glycoproteins, associated at their cytoplasmic ends with a network of other proteins constituting the membrane skeleton. There is much evidence that during invasion the membrane proteins and skeleton are removed from the invaginated membrane. There are also ultrastructural data suggesting that the rhoptries are able to generate membrane-like materials, which are inserted into the erythrocyte membrane to cause its inward expansion. Further expansion may be induced by the liberation of parasite secretions from another set of organelles (microspheres) released after the first stage of invasion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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