Exploitation of a newly-identified entry pathway into the malaria parasite-infected erythrocyte to inhibit parasite egress

Svetlana Glushakova, Brad L. Busse, Matthias Garten, Josh R. Beck, Rick M. Fairhurst, Daniel E. Goldberg, Joshua Zimmerberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

While many parasites develop within host cells to avoid antibody responses and to utilize host cytoplasmic resources, elaborate egress processes have evolved to minimize the time between escaping and invading the next cell. In human erythrocytes, malaria parasites perforate their enclosing erythrocyte membrane shortly before egress. Here, we show that these pores clearly function as an entry pathway into infected erythrocytes for compounds that inhibit parasite egress. The natural glycosaminoglycan heparin surprisingly inhibited malaria parasite egress, trapping merozoites within infected erythrocytes. Labeled heparin neither bound to nor translocated through the intact erythrocyte membrane during parasite development, but fluxed into erythrocytes at the last minute of the parasite lifecycle. This short encounter was sufficient to significantly inhibit parasite egress and dispersion. Heparin blocks egress by interacting with both the surface of intra-erythrocytic merozoites and the inner aspect of erythrocyte membranes, preventing the rupture of infected erythrocytes but not parasitophorous vacuoles, and independently interfering with merozoite disaggregation. Since this action of heparin recapitulates that of neutralizing antibodies, membrane perforation presents a brief opportunity for a new strategy to inhibit parasite egress and replication.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12250
JournalScientific reports
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

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