Freeze fracture studies on the interaction between the malaria parasite and the host erythrocyte in Plasmodium knowlesi infections

Parasitology. 1979 Aug;79(1):125-39. doi: 10.1017/s0031182000052021.


The freeze fracture technique has been used to study the internal cyto-architecture of the surface membranes of the parasite and erythrocyte in Plasmodium knowlesi infections. Six fracture faces, derived from the plasma membrane and 2 pellicular membranes, have been identified at the surface of the free merozoite. The apposed leaflets of the 2 pellicular membranes show the characteristic features of E fracture faces, a result compatible with the view that the pellicular membranes line a potential cisterna. There is evidence to suggest that there may be changes in the distribution and density of the integral proteins in the merozoite plasma membrane at invasion. Furthermore, vesicles consisting of stacked membranes occur within and around the erythrocyte invagination at invasion; it is suggested that these vesicles are released from the merozoite rhoptries. Formation of the parasitophorous vacuole is accompanied by dramatic changes in the density and distribution of intra-membraneous particles (IMP) in the vacuolar membrane. Initially there is a great reduction in particle numbers, but subsequently the particles reappear and show reversed polarity. The possible causes and implications of these changes are discussed. The intra-erythrocytic parasite synthesizes new transmembrane proteins as development proceeds, and the trophozoite and schizont stages of development are characterized by the appearance of circular, particle-free regions in the parasite plasmalemma. There is a decrease in the density of transmembrane proteins in the erythrocyte plasma membrane during parasite maturation, and the P face IMP show the characteristic features of aggregation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology*
  • Freeze Fracturing
  • Haplorhini
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Malaria / parasitology*
  • Models, Structural
  • Plasmodium / growth & development
  • Plasmodium / physiology*
  • Plasmodium / ultrastructure
  • Vacuoles / ultrastructure