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Blood Cells. 1990;16(2-3):379-95.

Vesicle-mediated transport of membrane and proteins in malaria-infected erythrocytes.

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Department of Medical and Molecular Parasitology, New York University School of Medicine, NY 10010.


Malaria parasites during intraerythrocytic development change the ultrastructure, biophysics, and the antigens of the host red blood cell membrane. Parasite-encoded proteins are associated with, inserted into, or secreted across the infected erythrocyte membrane. Since parasites of the genus Plasmodium are eukaryotic cells, it must be assumed that they possess essentially eukaryotic modes of vesicle-mediated transport and translocation of proteins and membranes. Numerous studies have demonstrated vesicular structures in the cytoplasm of malaria-infected red blood cells and an assortment of parasite proteins associated with the different vesicles, membranes, and membrane-defined compartments. Some parasite polypeptides remain trapped between the parasite and the parasitophorous vacuole membranes PVM, whereas others are associated with morphologically distinct membrane-limited vesicles and vacuoles. Some of these same parasite protein antigens also associate with the erythrocyte membrane or with parasite-induced ultrastructural modifications in the membrane of the parasitized red blood cells. This implies that intracellular transport occurs in malaria-infected erythrocytes, a capacity that uninfected red blood cells normally lose upon enucleation. The specific locations of parasite antigens within the infected cell also implys the existence of targeting signals in the translocated parasite polypeptides and perhaps transport-mediating proteins. The genes corresponding to some of these translocated proteins have been sequenced. Typical (and in some cases atypical) signal peptide sequences occur, as well as a number of sequences that may result in posttranslational modifications. How or if these features figure in to the translocation across, and targeting to a particular membrane compartment of the intraerythrocytic parasite remains unknown.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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