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Keywords:

  • malaria;
  • Plasmodium falciparum;
  • merozoite;
  • actin;
  • ubiquitin

Abstract

Merozoites of the human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, when treated with cytochalasin B, will attach irreversibly to red cells with formation of a vestigial internal (parasitophorous) vacuole, but they are inhibited from moving into the cell. The existence of an actin-based motile mechanism is implied. Immunoblotting, peptide mapping and the DNase inhibition assay have been used to show that the merozoite contains actin. It makes up an estimated 0.3% of the total parasite protein and is partitioned in the ratio of about 1:2 between the cytosolic and particulate protein fractions. In the former it is unpolymerised and in the latter filamentous. Most of the anti-actin-reactive protein in the soluble fraction and about 20% of that in the pellet has an apparent molecular weight of 55,000 and reacts with an anti-ubiquitin antibody; it is thus evidently ubiquitinyl actin, or arthrin, which has so far been detected only in insect flight muscle. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.