During its intraerythrocytic life cycle, the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum supplements its nutritional requirements by scavenging substrates from the plasma through the new permeability pathways (NPPs) installed in the red blood cell (RBC) membrane. Parasite proteins of the RhopH complex: CLAG3, RhopH2, RhopH3, have been implicated in NPP activity. Here we studied 13 exported proteins previously hypothesised to interact with RhopH2, to study their potential contribution to the function of NPPs. NPP activity assays revealed that the 13 proteins do not appear to be individually important for NPP function, as conditional knockdown of these proteins had no effect on sorbitol uptake. Intriguingly, reciprocal immunoprecipitation assays showed that five of the 13 proteins interact with all members of the RhopH complex, with PF3D7_1401200 showing the strongest association. Mass spectrometry-based proteomics further identified new protein complexes; a cytoskeletal complex and a Maurer’s clefts/J-dot complex, which overall helps clarify protein-protein interactions within the infected RBC (iRBC) and is suggestive of the potential trafficking route of the RhopH complex itself to the RBC membrane. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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