Microtubule associated motor proteins of Plasmodium falciparum merozoites

Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2001 Oct;117(2):187-200. doi: 10.1016/s0166-6851(01)00351-6.


We have studied the occurrence, stage specificity and cellular location of key molecules associated with microtubules in Plasmodium falciparum merozoites. Antibodies to gamma tubulin, conventional kinesin and cytoplasmic dynein were used to determine the polarity of merozoite microtubules (mt), the stage specificity of the motor proteins and their location during merozoite development. We conclude that the minus ends of the mts are located at their apical pole. Kinesin was present throughout the lifecycle, appearing as a distinct crescent at the apex of developing merozoites. The vast majority of cytoplasmic dynein reactivity occurred in late merogony, also appearing at the merozoite apex. Destruction of mt with dinitroanilines did not affect the cellular location of kinesin or dynein. In invasion assays, dynein inhibitors reduced the number of ring stage parasites. Our results show that both conventional kinesin and cytoplasmic dynein are abundant, located at the negative pole of the merozoite mt and, intriguingly, appear there only in very late merogony, prior to merozoite release and invasion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Polarity
  • Dyneins / metabolism*
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology
  • Fluorescein / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Kinesin / metabolism*
  • Malaria, Falciparum / parasitology
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / growth & development*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / pathogenicity*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / physiology
  • Tubulin / metabolism*


  • Tubulin
  • Dyneins
  • Kinesin
  • Fluorescein