Plasmodium species cause malaria by proliferating in human erythrocytes. Invasion of immunologically privileged erythrocytes provides a relatively protective niche as well as access to a rich source of nutrients. Plasmodium spp. target erythrocytes of different ages, but share a common mechanism of invasion. Specific engagement of erythrocyte receptors defines target cell tropism, activating downstream events and resulting in the physical penetration of the erythrocyte, powered by the parasite's actinomyosin-based motor. Here we review the latest in our understanding of the molecular composition of this highly complex and fascinating biological process.
Keywords: Plasmodium; erythrocyte; falciparum; invasion; malaria; merozoite; vivax.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.