Microtubules in Plasmodium falciparum merozoites and their importance for invasion of erythrocytes

Parasitology. 1998 Nov;117 ( Pt 5):425-33. doi: 10.1017/s003118209800328x.


Plasmodium falciparum merozoites have an array of 2-3 subpellicular microtubules, designated f-MAST. We have previously shown that colchicine inhibits merozoite invasion of erythrocytes, indicating a microtubular involvement in this process. Colchicine inhibition of invasion was reduced by the Taxol-stabilization of merozoite microtubules prior to colchicine exposure. Immunofluorescence assays showed that the number and length of f-MASTs were reduced in colchicine-treated merozoites, confirming that microtubules were the target of colchicine inhibition. The dinitroaniline drugs, trifluralin and pendimethalin, were shown by immunofluorescence to depolymerize the f-MAST and both drugs were inhibitory in invasion assays. These results demonstrate that the integrity of the f-MAST is important for successful invasion. Fluorescence imaging demonstrated the alignment of mitochondria to f-MAST, suggesting that mitochondrial transport might be perturbed in merozoites with disorganized f-MAST. Depolymerizing mt in late-stage schizonts did not affect the allocation of mitochondria to merozoites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aniline Compounds / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Colchicine / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Colchicine / pharmacology
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Microtubules / drug effects
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Microtubules / physiology*
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Paclitaxel / pharmacology
  • Plasmodium falciparum / drug effects
  • Plasmodium falciparum / growth & development
  • Plasmodium falciparum / pathogenicity*
  • Time Factors
  • Trifluralin / pharmacology


  • Aniline Compounds
  • Trifluralin
  • Paclitaxel
  • Colchicine
  • pendimethalin