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Proteins interacting with PfEMP1 in P. falciparum infected erythrocyte

During infection in humans, P. falciparum invades and refurbishes the red blood cells (RBCs) in order to persist and proliferate. Parasite survival depends on expression of a parasite encoded cytoadherence ligand at the surface of the infected RBC called PfEMP1 (P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1). PfEMP1 comprises a N-terminal extracellular part, which mediates binding to receptors at the host endothelium. It also contains a C-terminal part which is conserved among all PfEMP1 molecules. This acidic terminal segment (ATS) anchors PfEMP1 to the membrane of infected RBCs and has a role for trafficking. To bring proteins to the RBC surface, P. falciparum builds its own trafficking machinery de novo since the erythrocytes do not contain secretory organelles. These new structures include parasite derived compartments called Maurer's clefts (MCs) located at the RBC periphery. The resident MCs protein MAHRP1 (membrane-associated histidine-rich protein 1) has been shown to be critical for PfEMP1 trafficking. A MAHRP1 KO strain had no PfEMP1 on the RBC surface but accumulated PfEMP1 within the parasite. MAHRP1 is a 28.9kDa protein with 249 amino acids containing a N-terminal, a transmembrane, and a C-terminal domain comprising histidine-rich repeats. To re-establish PfEMP1 trafficking, the MAHRP1 KO parasite line was complemented with various truncated HA-tagged fragments of MAHRP1. Immunofluorescent assays (IFAs) showed that the Cterminal domain with the histidine-rich repeats was not essential for PfEMP1 trafficking. ${MAHRP1}_{1-130}$ and ${MAHRP1}_{1-169}$ were exported to MCs and restored trafficking of PfEMP1. Shorter MAHRP1 fragments were not exported to MCs and PfEMP1 transport remained impaired. New transfection constructs were designed including the C-terminal part to identify important domain(s) of MAHRP1 for PfEMP1 trafficking. To identify other proteins interacting with PfEMP1, the ATS domain of PfEMP1 was recombinantly expressed and used in pull-down experiments. In these experiments using parasite lysates, PF14_0377 was identified as a potential interaction partner. This protein has been described as putative, vesicular-associated membrane protein. To subsequently assess the interaction(s) and the localization(s), PF14_0377 was cloned and transfected in 3D7 for IFAs. Due to time restrictions all these new transfectants could not be analyzed completely


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