Host cell remodeling by pathogens: the exomembrane system in Plasmodium-infected erythrocytes

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Abstract

Malaria is caused by infection of erythrocytes by parasites of the genus Plasmodium. To survive inside erythrocytes, these parasites induce sweeping changes within the host cell, one of the most dramatic of which is the formation of multiple membranous compartments, collectively referred to as the exomembrane system. As an uninfected mammalian erythrocyte is devoid of internal membranes, the parasite must be the force and the source behind the formation of these compartments. Even though the first evidence of the presence these of internal compartments was obtained over a century ago, their functions remain mostly unclear, and in some cases completely unknown, and the mechanisms underlying their formation are still mysterious. In this review, we provide an overview of the different parts of the exomembrane system, describing the parasitophorous vacuole, the tubovesicular network, Maurer's clefts, the caveola-vesicle complex, J dots and other mobile compartments, and the small vesicles that have been observed in Plasmodium-infected cells. Finally, we combine the data into a simplified view of the exomembrane system and its relation to the alterations of the host erythrocyte.

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