Dream home: Malaria parasite renovates to suit its tastes

in proteins from the parasite gene knockouts, for example and the parasite survived well in most cases. So those proteins were not useful drug targets. But some of the exported proteins are unique to Plasmodium species, and identifying them has been a major step forward in establishing which are the important ones," Cowman said.

The exported proteins present in all Plasmodium species are critical for the malaria parasite's survival. This subset of proteins can cross the parasitophorous vacuole and remodel the erythrocyte, enabling the parasite to grow and infection to succeed. Now, instead of testing all 400 proteins for the development of antimalarial drugs, the researchers can concentrate on the key 10 to 15 proteins implicated in host infection.

Cowman is excited about the implications of the research. The identification of an export mechanism unique to Plasmodium species, he said, "raises the possibility of developing completely novel strategies to interfere with multiple aspects of parasite development through a single target."


Contact: Jennifer Donovan
Howard Hughes Medical Institute

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