A novel Plasmodium falciparum rhoptry associated adhesin mediates erythrocyte invasion through the sialic-acid dependent pathway

Sci Rep. 2016 Jul 7;6:29185. doi: 10.1038/srep29185.


Erythrocyte invasion by Plasmodium falciparum merozoites is central to blood-stage infection and malaria pathogenesis. This intricate process is coordinated by multiple parasite adhesins that bind erythrocyte receptors and mediate invasion through several alternate pathways. P. falciparum expresses 2700 genes during the blood-stages, of which the identity and function of many remains unknown. Here, we have identified and characterized a novel P. falciparum rhoptry associated adhesin (PfRA) that mediates erythrocyte invasion through the sialic-acid dependent pathway. PfRA appears to play a significant functional role as it is conserved across different Plasmodium species. It is localized in the rhoptries and further translocated to the merozoite surface. Both native and recombinant PfRA specifically bound erythrocytes in a sialic-acid dependent, chymotrypsin and trypsin resistant manner, which was abrogated by PfRA antibodies confirming a role in erythrocyte invasion. PfRA antibodies inhibited erythrocyte invasion and in combination with antibodies against other parasite ligands produced an additive inhibitory effect, thus validating its important role in erythrocyte invasion. We have thus identified a novel P. falciparum adhesin that binds with a sialic acid containing erythrocyte receptor. Our observations substantiate the strategy to block P. falciparum erythrocyte invasion by simultaneously targeting multiple conserved merozoite antigens involved in alternate invasion pathways.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology*
  • Humans
  • Life Cycle Stages
  • Merozoites / metabolism
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid / metabolism*
  • Parasites / growth & development
  • Plasmodium falciparum / growth & development
  • Plasmodium falciparum / immunology
  • Plasmodium falciparum / pathogenicity*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Transport
  • Protozoan Proteins / chemistry
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Solubility


  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • rhoptry associated protein, Plasmodium
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid