Identification of novel inner membrane complex and apical annuli proteins of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum

Cell Microbiol. 2021 Sep;23(9):e13341. doi: 10.1111/cmi.13341. Epub 2021 May 16.


The inner membrane complex (IMC) is a defining feature of apicomplexan parasites, which confers stability and shape to the cell, functions as a scaffolding compartment during the formation of daughter cells and plays an important role in motility and invasion during different life cycle stages of these single-celled organisms. To explore the IMC proteome of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum we applied a proximity-dependent biotin identification (BioID)-based proteomics approach, using the established IMC marker protein Photosensitized INA-Labelled protein 1 (PhIL1) as bait in asexual blood-stage parasites. Subsequent mass spectrometry-based peptide identification revealed enrichment of 12 known IMC proteins and several uncharacterized candidate proteins. We validated nine of these previously uncharacterized proteins by endogenous GFP-tagging. Six of these represent new IMC proteins, while three proteins have a distinct apical localization that most likely represents structures described as apical annuli in Toxoplasma gondii. Additionally, various Kelch13 interacting candidates were identified, suggesting an association of the Kelch13 compartment and the IMC in schizont and merozoite stages. This work extends the number of validated IMC proteins in the malaria parasite and reveals for the first time the existence of apical annuli proteins in P. falciparum. Additionally, it provides evidence for a spatial association between the Kelch13 compartment and the IMC in late blood-stage parasites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Malaria, Falciparum*
  • Merozoites
  • Parasites*
  • Plasmodium falciparum
  • Protozoan Proteins


  • Protozoan Proteins