Low birth weight in PNG is a killer. We need to work out what is causing it so we can stop it. Help us do urgently needed research into low birth weight in PNG.
The proliferation of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum within the human host is dependent upon invasion of erythrocytes. This process is accomplished by the merozoite, a highly specialized form of the parasite. Secretory organelles including micronemes and rhoptries play a pivotal role in the invasion process by storing and releasing parasite proteins. The mechanism of protein sorting to these compartments is unclear. Using a transgenic approach we show that trafficking of the most abundant micronemal proteins (members of the EBL-family: EBA-175, EBA-140/BAEBL, and EBA-181/JSEBL) is independent of their cytoplasmic and transmembrane domains, respectively. To identify the minimal sequence requirements for microneme trafficking, we generated parasites expressing EBA-GFP chimeric proteins and analyzed their distribution within the infected erythrocyte. This revealed that: (i) a conserved cysteine-rich region in the ectodomain is necessary for protein trafficking to the micronemes and (ii) correct sorting is dependent on accurate timing of expression.