close Icon

Trafficking of STEVOR to the Maurer's clefts in Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes.

Przyborski JM, Miller SK, Pfahler JM, Henrich PP, Rohrbach P, Crabb BS, Lanzer M

  • Journal The EMBO journal

  • Published 16 Jun 2005

  • Volume 24

  • ISSUE 13

  • Pagination 2306-17

  • DOI 10.1038/sj.emboj.7600720


The human malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum exports proteins to destinations within its host erythrocyte, including cytosol, surface and membranous profiles of parasite origin termed Maurer's clefts. Although several of these exported proteins are determinants of pathology and virulence, the mechanisms and trafficking signals underpinning protein export are largely uncharacterized-particularly for exported transmembrane proteins. Here, we have investigated the signals mediating trafficking of STEVOR, a family of transmembrane proteins located at the Maurer's clefts and believed to play a role in antigenic variation. Our data show that, apart from a signal sequence, a minimum of two addition signals are required. This includes a host cell targeting signal for export to the host erythrocyte and a transmembrane domain for final sorting to Maurer's clefts. Biochemical studies indicate that STEVOR traverses the secretory pathway as an integral membrane protein. Our data suggest general principles for transport of transmembrane proteins to the Maurer's clefts and provide new insights into protein sorting and trafficking processes in P. falciparum.