PfCERLI1 is a conserved rhoptry associated protein essential for Plasmodium falciparum merozoite invasion of erythrocytes
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A protein involved in helping malaria parasites invade human blood cells offers a promising new target for drugs and vaccines.
Malaria causes over 400,000 deaths per year. The malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum is responsible for most of these deaths.
A team led by researchers from the University of Adelaide in South Australia has shown that P. falciparum relies on a protein called PfCERLI1 to infiltrate red blood cells during the disease-causing blood stage of its lifecycle.
Using super-resolution imaging and various laboratory assays, the researchers detailed how PfCERLI1 localizes inside of a club-shaped secretory organelle called the rhoptry, where the protein aids in the secretion of factors that enable cell invasion.
Since genetic knockdown of PfCERLI1 activity impairs infection, vaccines or treatments aimed at the protein could help prevent or mitigate the disease in people.
- Nature Communications 11, 1411 (2020). doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-15127-w