The asexual maturation of Plasmodium falciparum is accompanied by the transport of parasite-encoded proteins to the erythrocyte plasma membrane. Activation of G proteins by treatment with aluminum fluoride produced an accumulation within the erythrocyte cytosol of vesicles coated with Plasmodium homologues of COPII and N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor, proteins involved in intracellular transport between the Golgi apparatus and the endoplasmic reticulum. These vesicles contain malarial proteins that appear on the erythrocyte plasma membrane, as well as actin and myosin. It is proposed that the parasite adapted a process well established for intracellular transport to mediate the extracellular movement of its proteins through the erythrocyte cytosol to the surface membrane.
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