Transport mechanisms in Plasmodium-infected erythrocytes: lipid rafts and a tubovesicular network

Int J Parasitol. 2001 Oct;31(12):1393-401. doi: 10.1016/s0020-7519(01)00251-x.


The mature human erythrocyte is a simple cell that is devoid of intracellular organelles and does not show endocytic or phagocytic activity at the plasma membrane. However, following infection by Plasmodium, the erythrocyte undergoes several morphological and functional changes. Parasite-derived proteins are exported into the erythrocyte cytoplasm and to the membrane, while several proteins are localised to the parasitophorous vacuolar membrane and to the tubovesicular membranous network structures surrounding the parasite. Recent evidence indicates that multiple host proteins, independent of the type of their membrane anchor, that exist in detergent-resistant membrane (DRM) rafts or microdomains enter this apicomplexan vacuole. The internalised host components along with the parasite-encoded transmembrane protein PfEXP1 can be detected as DRM rafts in the vacuole. It appears that in Plasmodium-infected erythrocytes lipid rafts may play a role in endovacuolation and macromolecular transport.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / metabolism
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / parasitology
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism*
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology
  • Erythrocytes / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Malaria / blood
  • Malaria / parasitology
  • Plasmodium / metabolism
  • Plasmodium / physiology*
  • Plasmodium / ultrastructure
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism*
  • Vacuoles / metabolism*
  • Vacuoles / parasitology


  • Protozoan Proteins