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Cell. 2013 May 23;153(5):1120-33. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.04.029. Epub 2013 May 15.

Cell-cell communication between malaria-infected red blood cells via exosome-like vesicles.

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Division of Infection and Immunity, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia.


Cell-cell communication is an important mechanism for information exchange promoting cell survival for the control of features such as population density and differentiation. We determined that Plasmodium falciparum-infected red blood cells directly communicate between parasites within a population using exosome-like vesicles that are capable of delivering genes. Importantly, communication via exosome-like vesicles promotes differentiation to sexual forms at a rate that suggests that signaling is involved. Furthermore, we have identified a P. falciparum protein, PfPTP2, that plays a key role in efficient communication. This study reveals a previously unidentified pathway of P. falciparum biology critical for survival in the host and transmission to mosquitoes. This identifies a pathway for the development of agents to block parasite transmission from the human host to the mosquito.

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