Malaria parasite proteins involved in nutrient channels at the host erythrocyte membrane: advances and questions for future research

Chalapareddy, S and Desai, SA

Erythrocytes infected with malaria parasites have increased permeability to nutrients and other solutes, as mediated by an unusual ion channel known as the plasmodial surface anion channel (PSAC). Although the increased permeability of infected erythrocytes was identified more than 70 years ago and subsequently characterized with tracer studies, its mechanism and role in parasite biology remained unclear until the introduction of patch-clamp methods and high-throughput screening technologies. These methods discovered and implicated PSAC as the primary mechanism, determined that this channel is essential for parasite development, led to identification of the channel’s genes, and stimulated antimalarial drug discovery against this target. Despite theseadvances, many questions remain about this unusual parasite channel. Our review highlights some recent advances and describes important questions for future research.

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