The twists and turns of Maurer's cleft trafficking in P. falciparum-infected erythrocytes

Traffic. 2008 Feb;9(2):187-97. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0854.2007.00684.x. Epub 2007 Dec 10.


The malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, invades the red blood cells (RBCs) of its human host and initiates a series of morphological rearrangements within the host cell cytoplasm. The mature RBC has no endogenous trafficking machinery; therefore, the parasite generates novel structures to mediate protein transport. These include compartments called the Maurer's clefts (MC), which play an important role in the trafficking of parasite proteins to the surface of the host cell. Recent electron tomography studies have revealed MC as convoluted flotillas of flattened discs that are tethered to the RBC membrane, prompting speculation that the MC could, in one respect, represent an extracellular equivalent of the Golgi apparatus. Visualization of both resident and cargo proteins has helped decipher the signals and routes for trafficking of parasite proteins to the MC and beyond.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytoplasmic Structures / diagnostic imaging
  • Cytoplasmic Structures / metabolism*
  • Cytoplasmic Structures / parasitology
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism*
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology
  • Erythrocytes / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Models, Biological
  • Plasmodium falciparum / physiology*
  • Protein Sorting Signals / physiology
  • Protein Transport / physiology
  • Ultrasonography


  • Protein Sorting Signals