The Plasmodium falciparum heat shock protein 40, Pfj4, associates with heat shock protein 70 and shows similar heat induction and localisation patterns

Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2008;40(12):2914-26. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2008.06.011. Epub 2008 Jul 12.


Human cerebral malaria is caused by the protozoan parasite Plasmodium falciparum, which establishes itself within erythrocytes. The normal body temperature in the human host could constitute a possible source of heat stress to the parasite. Molecular chaperones belonging to the heat shock protein (Hsp) class are thought to be important for parasite subsistence in the host cell, as the expression of some members of this family has been reported to increase upon heat shock. In this paper we investigated the possible functions of the P. falciparum heat shock protein DnaJ homologue Pfj4, a type II Hsp40 protein. We analysed the ability of Pfj4 to functionally replace Escherichia coli Hsp40 proteins in a dnaJ cbpA mutant strain. Western analysis on cellular fractions of P. falciparum-infected erythrocytes revealed that Pfj4 expression increased upon heat shock. Localisation studies using immunofluorescence and immuno-electron microscopy suggested that Pfj4 and P. falciparum Hsp70, PfHsp70-1, were both localised to the parasites nucleus and cytoplasm. In some cases, Pfj4 was also detected in the erythrocyte cytoplasm of infected erythrocytes. Immunoprecipitation studies and size exclusion chromatography indicated that Pfj4 and PfHsp70-1 may directly or indirectly interact. Our results suggest a possible involvement of Pfj4 together with PfHsp70-1 in cytoprotection, and therefore, parasite survival inside the erythrocyte.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • HSP40 Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • HSP40 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism*
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism*
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / genetics
  • Plasmodium falciparum / metabolism*


  • HSP40 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins