Calcium signalling in malaria parasites

Mol Microbiol. 2016 May;100(3):397-408. doi: 10.1111/mmi.13324. Epub 2016 Feb 12.


Ca(2+) is a ubiquitous intracellular messenger in malaria parasites with important functions in asexual blood stages responsible for malaria symptoms, the preceding liver-stage infection and transmission through the mosquito. Intracellular messengers amplify signals by binding to effector molecules that trigger physiological changes. The characterisation of some Ca(2+) effector proteins has begun to provide insights into the vast range of biological processes controlled by Ca(2+) signalling in malaria parasites, including host cell egress and invasion, protein secretion, motility and cell cycle regulation. Despite the importance of Ca(2+) signalling during the life cycle of malaria parasites, little is known about Ca(2+) homeostasis. Recent findings highlighted that upstream of stage-specific Ca(2+) effectors is a conserved interplay between second messengers to control critical intracellular Ca(2+) signals throughout the life cycle. The identification of the molecular mechanisms integrating stage-transcending mechanisms of Ca(2+) homeostasis in a network of stage-specific regulator and effector pathways now represents a major challenge for a meaningful understanding of Ca(2+) signalling in malaria parasites.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology*
  • Cation Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology
  • Life Cycle Stages / physiology
  • Malaria, Falciparum / metabolism*
  • Malaria, Falciparum / parasitology
  • Plasmodium falciparum / metabolism*


  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • Calcium