Knobs appear on Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes in early trophozoite stages of the asexual life cycle of the parasite. They are protuberances of the red blood cell membrane that contain various malarial proteins, with the structural component being the knob-associated histidine rich protein (KAHRP). Knobs provide an elevation for the major variant protein family P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein (PfEMP1) which confers adherence to endothelia in the deep vasculature of various organs, e.g. the brain, often leading to fatal complications of the disease. In order to determine the domains of KAHRP necessary for knob formation we used targeted gene truncation in 3D7 parasites. The resulting 7 mutant cell lines express gradual truncations of the full length protein. Using atomic force, scanning and transmission electron microscopy we were able to decipher the elements for knob formation. We will also report on changes in elasticity of the infected erythrocyte membrane and the cytoadherence properties of the mutant cell lines.

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Last edited: Friday September 10, 2010

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