A host-targeting signal in virulence proteins reveals a secretome in malarial infection


Malaria parasites secrete proteins across the vacuolar membrane into the erythrocyte, inducing modifications linked to disease and parasite survival. We identified an 11-amino acid signal required for the secretion of proteins from the Plasmodium falciparum vacuole to the human erythrocyte. Bioinformatics predicted a secretome of >320 proteins and conservation of the signal across parasite species. Functional studies indicated the predictive value of the signal and its role in targeting virulence proteins to the erythrocyte and implicated its recognition by a receptor/transporter. Erythrocyte modification by the parasite may involve plasmodial heat shock proteins and be vastly more complex than hitherto realized.

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