Correct Promoter Control Is Needed for Trafficking of the Ring-Infected Erythrocyte Surface Antigen to the Host Cytosol in Transfected Malaria Parasites Academic Article uri icon


  • Following invasion of human erythrocytes, the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, exports proteins beyond the confines of its own plasma membrane to modify the properties of the host red cell membrane. These modifications are critical to the pathogenesis of malaria. Analysis of the P. falciparum genome sequence has identified a large number of molecules with putative atypical signal sequences. The signals remain poorly characterized; however, a number of molecules with these motifs localize to the host erythrocyte. To examine the role of these atypical signal sequences in the export of parasite proteins, we have generated transfected parasites expressing a chimeric protein comprising the N-terminal region of the P. falciparum ring-infected erythrocyte surface antigen (RESA) appended to green fluorescent protein (GFP). This N-terminal region contains a hydrophobic stretch of amino acids that is presumed to act as a noncanonical secretory signal sequence. Modulation of the timing of transgene expression demonstrates that trafficking of malaria proteins into the host erythrocyte is dependent on both the presence of an appropriate transport signal and the timing of expression. Transgene expression under the control of a trophozoite-specific promoter mistargets the chimeric molecule to the parasitophorous vacuole surrounding the parasite. However, expression of RESA-GFP in schizont stages, under the control of the RESA promoter, enables correct trafficking of a population of the chimeric protein to the host erythrocyte.


  • Rug, M
  • Wickham, ME
  • Foley, M
  • Cowman, AF
  • Tilley, L

publication date

  • October 1, 2004

has subject area