A map of the subcellular distribution of phosphoinositides in the erythrocytic cycle of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum

Int J Parasitol. 2018 Jan;48(1):13-25. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2017.08.015. Epub 2017 Nov 15.


Despite representing a small percentage of the cellular lipids of eukaryotic cells, phosphoinositides (PIPs) are critical in various processes such as intracellular trafficking and signal transduction. Central to their various functions is the differential distribution of PIP species to specific membrane compartments through the actions of kinases, phosphatases and lipases. Despite their importance in the malaria parasite lifecycle, the subcellular distribution of most PIP species in this organism is still unknown. We here localise several species of PIPs throughout the erythrocytic cycle of Plasmodium falciparum. We show that PI3P is mostly found at the apicoplast and the membrane of the food vacuole, that PI4P associates with the Golgi apparatus and the plasma membrane and that PI(4,5)P2, in addition to being detected at the plasma membrane, labels some cavity-like spherical structures. Finally, we show that the elusive PI5P localises to the plasma membrane, the nucleus and potentially to the transitional endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Our map of the subcellular distribution of PIP species in P. falciparum will be a useful tool to shed light on the dynamics of these lipids in this deadly parasite.

Keywords: Malaria; Phosphoinositide; Subcellular distribution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apicoplasts / genetics
  • Apicoplasts / metabolism
  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Membrane / genetics
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology*
  • Golgi Apparatus / genetics
  • Golgi Apparatus / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Malaria, Falciparum / parasitology*
  • Phosphatidylinositols / chemistry
  • Phosphatidylinositols / metabolism*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / genetics
  • Plasmodium falciparum / growth & development
  • Plasmodium falciparum / metabolism*


  • Phosphatidylinositols

Grants and funding