Mitosis in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum

Eukaryot Cell. 2011 Apr;10(4):474-82. doi: 10.1128/EC.00314-10. Epub 2011 Feb 11.


Malaria is caused by intraerythrocytic protozoan parasites belonging to Plasmodium spp. (phylum Apicomplexa) that produce significant morbidity and mortality, mostly in developing countries. Plasmodium parasites have a complex life cycle that includes multiple stages in anopheline mosquito vectors and vertebrate hosts. During the life cycle, the parasites undergo several cycles of extreme population growth within a brief span, and this is critical for their continued transmission and a contributing factor for their pathogenesis in the host. As with other eukaryotes, successful mitosis is an essential requirement for Plasmodium reproduction; however, some aspects of Plasmodium mitosis are quite distinct and not fully understood. In this review, we will discuss the current understanding of the architecture and key events of mitosis in Plasmodium falciparum and related parasites and compare them with the traditional mitotic events described for other eukaryotes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Malaria, Falciparum / parasitology*
  • Mitosis / physiology*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / cytology
  • Plasmodium falciparum / growth & development*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / physiology
  • Spindle Apparatus / metabolism
  • Spindle Apparatus / ultrastructure