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Invasion of red blood cells by malaria parasites.

Cowman AF, Crabb BS

  • Journal Cell

  • Published 22 Mar 2006

  • Volume 124

  • ISSUE 4

  • Pagination 755-66

  • DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2006.02.006


The malaria parasite is the most important member of the Apicomplexa, a large and highly successful phylum of intracellular parasites. Invasion of host cells allows apicomplexan parasites access to a rich source of nutrients in a niche that is largely protected from host defenses. All Apicomplexa adopt a common mode of host-cell entry, but individual species incorporate unique features and utilize a specific set of ligand-receptor interactions. These adhesins ultimately connect to a parasite actin-based motor, which provides the power for invasion. While some Apicomplexa can invade many different host cells, the disease-associated blood-stage form of the malaria parasite is restricted to erythrocytes.