A Plasmodium falciparum S33 proline aminopeptidase is associated with changes in erythrocyte deformability

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Journal Article
Experimental Parasitology, 2016, 169 pp. 13 - 21
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© 2016 Elsevier Inc. Infection with the apicomplexan parasite Plasmodium falciparum is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. One of the striking features of this parasite is its ability to remodel and decrease the deformability of host red blood cells, a process that contributes to disease. To further understand the virulence of Pf we investigated the biochemistry and function of a putative Pf S33 proline aminopeptidase (PfPAP). Unlike other P. falciparum aminopeptidases, PfPAP contains a predicted protein export element that is non-syntenic with other human infecting Plasmodium species. Characterization of PfPAP demonstrated that it is exported into the host red blood cell and that it is a prolyl aminopeptidase with a preference for N-terminal proline substrates. In addition genetic deletion of this exopeptidase was shown to lead to an increase in the deformability of parasite-infected red cells and in reduced adherence to the endothelial cell receptor CD36 under flow conditions. Our studies suggest that PfPAP plays a role in the rigidification and adhesion of infected red blood cells to endothelial surface receptors, a role that may make this protein a novel target for anti-disease interventions strategies.
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