Identification of Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) as the rosetting ligand of the malaria parasite P. falciparum.

The Journal of experimental medicine

PubMedID: 9419207

Chen Q, Barragan A, Fernandez V, Sundström A, Schlichtherle M, Sahlén A, Carlson J, Datta S, Wahlgren M. Identification of Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) as the rosetting ligand of the malaria parasite P. falciparum. J Exp Med. 1998;187(1):15-23.
Severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria is characterized by excessive sequestration of infected and uninfected erythrocytes in the microvasculature of the affected organ. Rosetting, the adhesion of P. falciparum-infected erythrocytes to uninfected erythrocytes is a virulent parasite phenotype associated with the occurrence of severe malaria. Here we report on the identification by single-cell reverse transcriptase PCR and cDNA cloning of the adhesive ligand P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1). Rosetting PfEMP1 contains clusters of glycosaminoglycan-binding motifs. A recombinant fusion protein (Duffy binding-like 1-glutathione S transferase; Duffy binding-like-1-GST) was found to adhere directly to normal erythrocytes, disrupt naturally formed rosettes, block rosette reformation, and bind to a heparin-Sepharose matrix. The adhesive interactions could be inhibited with heparan sulfate or enzymes that remove heparan sulfate from the cell surface whereas other enzymes or similar glycosaminoglycans of a like negative charge did not affect the binding. PfEMP1 is suggested to be the rosetting ligand and heparan sulfate, or a heparan sulfate-like molecule, the receptor both for PfEMP1 binding and naturally formed erythrocyte rosettes.