Publications & Reports

Protein export in Plasmodium parasites: from the endoplasmic reticulum to the vacuolar export machine.

Crabb BS, de Koning-Ward TF, Gilson PR
Burnet Institute, Melbourne 3004, Australia. [email protected]


It is somewhat paradoxical that the malaria parasite’s survival strategy involves spending almost all of its blood-stage existence residing behind a two-membrane barrier in a host red blood cell, yet giving considerable attention to exporting parasite-encoded proteins back across these membranes. These exported proteins are thought to play diverse roles and are crucial in pathogenic processes, such as re-modelling of the erythrocyte cytoskeleton and mediating the export of a major virulence protein known as Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1), and in metabolic processes such as nutrient uptake and solute exchange. Despite these varied roles most exported proteins have at least one common link; they share a trafficking pathway that begins with entry into the endoplasmic reticulum and concludes with passage across the vacuole membrane via a proteinaceous translocon known as the Plasmodium translocon of exported proteins (PTEX). In this commentary we review recent advances in our understanding of this export pathway and suggest several models by which different aspects of the process may be interconnected.



  • Journal: International Journal for Parasitology
  • Published: 01/04/2010
  • Volume: 40
  • Issue: 5
  • Pagination: 509-513