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Invasion by P. falciparum Merozoites Suggests a Hierarchy

Summary: Invasion by P. falciparum Merozoites
Suggests a Hierarchy
of Molecular Interactions
Jake Baum, Alexander G. Maier, Robert T. Good, Ken M. Simpson, Alan F. Cowman*
Division of Infection and Immunity, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
Central to the pathology of malaria disease are the repeated cycles of parasite invasion and destruction of human
erythrocytes. In Plasmodium falciparum, the most virulent species causing malaria, erythrocyte invasion involves
several specific receptor­ligand interactions that direct the pathway used to invade the host cell, with parasites
varying in their dependency on these different pathways. Gene disruption of a key invasion ligand in the 3D7 parasite
strain, the P. falciparum reticulocyte binding-like homolog 2b (PfRh2b), resulted in the parasite invading via a novel
pathway. Here, we show results that suggest the molecular basis for this novel pathway is not due to a molecular
switch but is instead mediated by the redeployment of machinery already present in the parent parasite but masked
by the dominant role of PfRh2b. This would suggest that interactions directing invasion are organized hierarchically,
where silencing of dominant invasion ligands reveal underlying alternative pathways. This provides wild parasites with
the ability to adapt to immune-mediated selection or polymorphism in erythrocyte receptors and has implications for
the use of invasion-related molecules in candidate vaccines.
Citation: Baum J, Maier AG, Good RT, Simpson KM, Cowman AF (2005) Invasion by P. falciparum merozoites suggests a hierarchy of molecular interactions. PLoS Pathog 1(4): e37.
Unlike many other members of the phylum Apicomplexa,
malaria parasites limit their infection of host cells to the


Source: Arnold, Jonathan - Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center & Department of Genetics, University of Georgia


Collections: Biotechnology