Image by Липцо Козерога from Pixabay 

Article Writer-   Minakshi  Kumari, MSc. Biotechnology, RCA, Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture and Technology, Udaipur, Rajsthan(India)

Malaria, a parasitic disease, caused by Plasmodium falciparum (most virulent strain for malaria), affects millions of people around the world in a year. Till now, we know that the parasite enters red blood cells (RBCs) through parasitophorous Vacuole and resides inside of the vacuolar space, developed during the invasion process. And, transport of nutrients takes place when parasitophorous vacuolar membrane collaborates with the plasma membrane of the parasite.

Now, researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have deciphered the mechanisms by which molecules traversed these spaces. As malarial parasite infects RBCs, a set of pore-like holes or channels traversing the membrane-bound sac are formed and enclose it. These channels are involved in the transport of lipid molecules between the parasite and RBCs.

These new findings follow the earlier discovery of another set of channels involved in the transport of protein and non-fatty acids between them.

Newly discovered channels are composed of Niemann-PickC1 related protein (pfNCR1) and are present in the region where the vacuolar membrane touches the parasitic membrane. While protein transporting channel is formed by exported protein 2 (EXP2) and are present far from parasite’s membrane.

The research team concluded that “the host-parasite interface is structured to segregate hydrophilic and hydrophobic transporters.”

Understanding the mechanism of transport would be crucial for the treatment of this disease by blocking the transportation of nutrients needed by the parasites.

 Journal Reference:

Garten, M., Beck, J.R., Roth, R. et al. Contacting domains segregate a lipid transporter from a solute transporter in the malarial host-parasite interface. Nat Commun 11, 3825 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-17506-9