Plasmodium vivax malaria is much less common in Africa than the rest of the world because the parasite relies primarily on the Duffy antigen/chemokine receptor (DARC) to invade human erythrocytes, and the majority of Africans are Duffy negative. Recently, there has been a dramatic increase in the reporting of P. vivax cases in Africa, with a high number of them being in Duffy negative individuals, potentially indicating P. vivax has evolved an alternative invasion mechanism that can overcome Duffy negativity.
Intracellular pathogens mobilize host signaling pathways of their host cell to promote their own survival. Evidence is emerging that signal transduction elements are activated in a-nucleated erythrocytes in response to infection with malaria parasites, but the extent of this phenomenon remains unknown. Here, we fill this knowledge gap through a comprehensive and dynamic assessment of host erythrocyte signaling during infection with Plasmodium falciparum.
Plasmodium falciparum leads to a virulent form of malaria. Progress has been achieved in understanding the mechanisms involved in the malarial infection, still there is no effective vaccine to prevent severe infection. An effective vaccine against malaria should be one which can induce immune responses against multiple epitopes in the context of predominantly occurring HLA alleles.
Plasmodium vivax is the most widespread and difficult to treat cause of human malaria. The development of vaccines against the blood stages of P. vivax remains a key objective for the control and elimination of vivax malaria. Erythrocyte binding-like (EBL) protein family members such as Duffy binding protein (PvDBP) are of critical importance to erythrocyte invasion and have been the major target for vivax malaria vaccine development.
The most severe form of human malaria is caused by Plasmodium falciparum. Its virulence is closely linked to the increase in rigidity of infected erythrocytes and their adhesion to endothelial receptors, obstructing blood flow to vital organs. Unlike other human-infecting Plasmodium species, P. falciparum exports a family of 18 FIKK serine/threonine kinases into the host cell, suggesting that phosphorylation may modulate erythrocyte modifications.
Malaria parasites proliferate by repeated invasion of and multiplication within erythrocytes in the vertebrate host. Sexually committed intraerythrocytic parasites undergo sexual stage differentiation to become gametocytes. After ingestion by the mosquito, male and female gametocytes egress from erythrocytes and fertilize within the mosquito midgut. A complex signaling pathway likely responds to environmental events to trigger gametogenesis and regulate fertilization; however, such knowledge remains limited for malaria parasites.