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Traffic. 2013 Oct;14(10):1053-64. doi: 10.1111/tra.12092. Epub 2013 Jul 30.

Molecular determinants for subcellular trafficking of the malarial sheddase PfSUB2.

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Division of Parasitology, MRC National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill, London, NW7 1AA, UK; Present address: Pathology Department, Stanford University School of Medicine, CA, USA.


The malaria merozoite invades erythrocytes in the vertebrate host. Iterative rounds of asexual intraerythrocytic replication result in disease. Proteases play pivotal roles in erythrocyte invasion, but little is understood about their mode of action. The Plasmodium falciparum malaria merozoite surface sheddase, PfSUB2, is one such poorly characterized example. We have examined the molecular determinants that underlie the mechanisms by which PfSUB2 is trafficked initially to invasion-associated apical organelles (micronemes) and then across the surface of the free merozoite. We show that authentic promoter activity is important for correct localization of PfSUB2, likely requiring canonical features within the intergenic region 5' of the pfsub2 locus. We further demonstrate that trafficking of PfSUB2 beyond an early compartment in the secretory pathway requires autocatalytic protease activity. Finally, we show that the PfSUB2 transmembrane domain is required for microneme targeting, while the cytoplasmic domain is essential for surface translocation of the protease to the parasite posterior following discharge from micronemes. The interplay of pre- and post-translational regulatory elements that coordinate subcellular trafficking of PfSUB2 provides the parasite with exquisite control over enzyme-substrate interactions.


Plasmodium; SUB2; malaria; microneme; protease; sheddase

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