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Tobias Spielmann (2014-2017)

Characterisation of the vacuolar compartment of malaria parasites within human red blood cells

Plasmodium falciparum blood stages are responsible for the pathology of malaria. In this live cycle phase the parasite develops within red blood cells, surrounded by an extra membrane termed the parasitophorous

vacuolar membrane (PVM). This membrane represents the interface between the parasite and the host cell and therefore plays a central role for the intracellular survival of the parasite. Despite of the importance of this compartment, little is known about its biogenesis and its protein composition. We will therefore characterise this compartment across the development of the parasite in red blood cells using imaging and will determine its proteome using a new approach. The proteome will then be correlated with the different life cycle phases in the red blood cell in order to reveal specific functions for the parasite. We expect that this project will not only define the characteristics of this important compartment but also to find the long sought molecular basis for known activities, such as for instance the major solute pore in the PVM. Moreover, we expect to discover new, so far unknown functions of the PVM that may also be of general relevance to understand intracellular survival of other pathogens.

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