Cell biological analysis reveals an essential role for Pfcerli2 in erythrocyte invasion by malaria parasites

Benjamin Liffner, Juan Miguel Balbin, Gerald J. Shami, Ghizal Siddiqui, Jan Strauss, Sonja Frölich, Gary K. Heinemann, Ella May Edwards, Arne Alder, Jan Stephan Wichers, Darren J. Creek, Leann Tilley, Matthew W.A. Dixon, Tim Wolf Gilberger, Danny W. Wilson

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Merozoite invasion of host red blood cells (RBCs) is essential for survival of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Proteins involved with RBC binding and invasion are secreted from dual-club shaped organelles at the apical tip of the merozoite called the rhoptries. Here we characterise P. falciparum Cytosolically Exposed Rhoptry Leaflet Interacting protein 2 (PfCERLI2), as a rhoptry bulb protein that is essential for merozoite invasion. Phylogenetic analyses show that cerli2 arose through an ancestral gene duplication of cerli1. We show that PfCERLI2 is essential for blood-stage growth and localises to the cytosolic face of the rhoptry bulb. Inducible knockdown of PfCERLI2 led to a proportion of merozoites failing to invade and was associated with elongation of the rhoptry organelle during merozoite development and inhibition of rhoptry antigen processing. These findings identify PfCERLI2 as a protein that has key roles in rhoptry biology during merozoite invasion.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121
Number of pages17
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

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