The pathological consequences of malaria infection are the result of parasite replication within red blood cells (RBCs). Invasion into RBCs is mediated by a large repertoire of parasite proteins that are distributed on the parasite surface and within specialised apical secretory organelles. As invasion is an essential step in the parasite life-cycle, targeting invasion-related molecules provides an avenue for therapeutic intervention. We have used genome and transcriptome data available for Plasmodium falciparum to identify proteins likely to be involved in RBC invasion. Of these candidates, we selected a protein which we have dubbed PfRON6 for detailed characterisation. PfRON6 contains a novel cysteine-rich domain that is conserved in other Apicomplexan parasites. We show that PfRON6 is localised in the rhoptry neck of merozoites and is transferred to the newly formed parasitophorous vacuole during invasion. Transfection experiments indicate that the gene which encodes PfRON6 is refractory to integration that disrupts the coding sequence, suggesting its absence is incompatible with the parasite life-cycle. Further, the cysteine-rich domain appears to be functionally important as it cannot be truncated. Taken together, these data identify PfRON6 as a novel and potentially important component of the Plasmodium invasion machinery.
|Pages (from-to)||683 - 692|
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||International Journal for Parasitology|
|Publication status||Published - 2009|