Invasion of red blood cells by malaria parasites

Cell. 2006 Feb 24;124(4):755-66. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2006.02.006.


The malaria parasite is the most important member of the Apicomplexa, a large and highly successful phylum of intracellular parasites. Invasion of host cells allows apicomplexan parasites access to a rich source of nutrients in a niche that is largely protected from host defenses. All Apicomplexa adopt a common mode of host-cell entry, but individual species incorporate unique features and utilize a specific set of ligand-receptor interactions. These adhesins ultimately connect to a parasite actin-based motor, which provides the power for invasion. While some Apicomplexa can invade many different host cells, the disease-associated blood-stage form of the malaria parasite is restricted to erythrocytes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology*
  • Forecasting
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Humans
  • Malaria / blood
  • Malaria / parasitology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Motor Proteins
  • Plasmodium falciparum / physiology*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / ultrastructure
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism


  • Molecular Motor Proteins
  • Protozoan Proteins