P. falciparum RH5-Basigin interaction induces changes in the cytoskeleton of the host RBC

Cell Microbiol. 2017 Sep;19(9). doi: 10.1111/cmi.12747. Epub 2017 May 9.


The successful invasion of Plasmodium is an essential step in their life cycle. The parasite reticulocyte-binding protein homologues (RHs) and erythrocyte-binding like proteins are two families involved in the invasion leading to merozoite-red blood cell (RBC) junction formation. Ca2+ signaling has been shown to play a critical role in the invasion. RHs have been linked to Ca2+ signaling, which triggers the erythrocyte-binding like proteins release ahead of junction formation, consistent with RHs performing an initial sensing function in identifying suitable RBCs. RH5, the only essential RHs, is a highly promising vaccine candidate. RH5-basigin interaction is essential for merozoite invasion and also important in determining host tropism. Here, we show that RH5 has a distinct function from the other RHs. We show that RH5-Basigin interaction on its own triggers a Ca2+ signal in the RBC resulting in changes in RBC cytoskeletal proteins phosphorylation and overall alterations in RBC cytoskeleton architecture. Antibodies targeting RH5 that block the signal prevent invasion before junction formation consistent with the Ca2+ signal in the RBC leading to rearrangement of the cytoskeleton required for invasion. This work provides the first time a functional context for the essential role of RH5 and will now open up new avenues to target merozoite invasion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Antigens, Protozoan / biosynthesis
  • Basigin / metabolism*
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology*
  • Carrier Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Carrier Proteins / immunology
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Cytoskeleton / parasitology
  • Cytoskeleton / pathology
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology
  • Erythrocytes / physiology*
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / physiology
  • Humans
  • Malaria, Falciparum / parasitology
  • Merozoites / pathogenicity*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / metabolism
  • Plasmodium falciparum / pathogenicity*
  • Protozoan Proteins / biosynthesis


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, Protozoan
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • RH5 protein, Plasmodium falciparum
  • erythrocyte-binding antigen 175, Plasmodium
  • Basigin