Cell-cell communication is an important mechanism for information exchange promoting cell survival for the control of features such as population density and differentiation. We determined that Plasmodium falciparum-infected red blood cells directly communicate between parasites within a population using exosome-like vesicles that are capable of delivering genes. Importantly, communication via exosome-like vesicles promotes differentiation to sexual forms at a rate that suggests that signaling is involved. Furthermore, we have identified a P. falciparum protein, PfPTP2, that plays a key role in efficient communication. This study reveals a previously unidentified pathway of P. falciparum biology critical for survival in the host and transmission to mosquitoes. This identifies a pathway for the development of agents to block parasite transmission from the human host to the mosquito.
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