One of the key processes in the pathobiology of the malaria parasite is the invasion and subsequent modification of the human erythrocyte. In this complex process, an unknown number of parasite proteins are involved, some of which are leading vaccine candidates. The majority of the proteins that play pivotal roles in invasion are either stored in the apical secretory organelles or located on the surface of the merozoite, the invasive stage of the parasite. Using transcriptional and structural features of these known proteins, we performed a genomewide search that identified 49 hypothetical proteins with a high probability of being located on the surface of the merozoite or in the secretory organelles. Of these candidates, we characterized a novel leucine zipper-like protein in Plasmodium falciparum that is conserved in Plasmodium spp. This protein is expressed in late blood stages and localizes to the rhoptries of the parasite. We demonstrate that this Plasmodium sp.-specific protein has a high degree of conservation within field isolates and that it is refractory to gene knockout attempts and thus might play an important role in invasion.
|Tijdschrift||Infection and Immunity|
|Nummer van het tijdschrift||3|
|Status||Gepubliceerd - mrt. 2008|