Plasmodium translocon component EXP2 facilitates hepatocyte invasion

Journal: Nature Communications

Published: 2020-11-06

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-19492-4

Affiliations: 2

Authors: 5

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Research Highlight

Protein helps malaria parasite invade liver cells

© CHRISTOPH BURGSTEDT/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images

© CHRISTOPH BURGSTEDT/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images

Malaria parasites employ a sneaky tactic to gain entry into human liver cells.

Plasmodium parasites are responsible for malaria, which infects more than 200 million people globally per year. On entering the bloodstream, they travel to the liver and infect its cells. But exactly how they gain entry to liver cells was unclear.

A Deakin University researcher and colleagues in Portugal have found that Plasmodium parasites secrete a protein called Exported Protein 2 (EXP2), which perforates the outer membrane of liver cells. This leads to an influx of calcium, which in turn activates host repair mechanisms. The pathogen then hijacks those repair processes to access the cell.

The study uncovers another critical function of EXP2 in liver cell invasion and further validates the idea of therapeutically targeting the protein as a novel anti-malaria strategy.

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  1. Nature Communications 11, 5654 (2020). doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-19492-4
Institutions Share
University of Lisbon (ULISBOA), Portugal 0.80
Deakin University, Australia 0.20

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