Deciphering the export pathway of malaria surface proteins.
Protein Sorting Signals
The intra-erythrocytic stages of Plasmodium falciparum assemble a unique protein trafficking system that targets parasite proteins to the red cell cytoplasm and cell surface. It is through this trafficking pathway that the primary virulence determinants of P. falciparum infections are targeted to the erythrocyte surface to mediate adhesion to host endothelial cells. A recent study has shown that SBP-1, a parasite protein associated with Maurer's clefts in the infected red cell cytosol, is essential for transport of the virulence factor PfEMP-1. This discovery sheds new light on the little-understood mechanisms that regulate protein trafficking in infected cells.