Binding of Plasmodium falciparum Rhoptry Proteins to Mouse Erythrocytes and Their Possible Role in Invasion

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Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology


Rhoptry proteins of Plasmodium falciparum merozoites, of 140, 130, and 110 kDa, identified by co-precipitation with Mab.1B9, bind selectively to mouse erythrocytes and reticulocytes. The properties of binding are shown to correlate with invasion of P. falciparum into mouse erythrocytes. Invasion of two strains of P. falciparum 7G8 and FCR-3, into mouse erythrocytes was examined, and was found to differ significantly. The 7G8 strain invades mouse erythrocytes at a rate of 40-60% compared to invasion into human erythrocytes, whereas FCR-3 invades at a rate of 5-15%. Both strains of P. falciparum preferentially invade reticulocytes in the in vitro invasion assay. This correlates with an increase in the amount of rhoptry protein of the 7G8 strain bound to mouse erythrocytes, compared to the FCR-3 strain and an increased binding to reticulocytes compared to mature erythrocytes. Binding of the rhoptry proteins and merozoite invasion into the erythrocyte is blocked in erythrocytes treated with trypsin and chymotrypsin but not in neuraminidase-treated erythrocytes, suggesting that the putative receptor site is exposed and accessible on the erythrocyte surface. Rabbit antiserum against gp3, the major glycophorin of mouse erythrocytes, blocks binding of the rhoptry proteins to erythrocytes and reduces merozoite invasion into mouse erythrocytes by 50%. Binding of rhoptry proteins to mouse reticulocytes was not blocked by αgp3 indicating a receptor difference between reticulocytes and erythrocytes. Mab.1B9 reduces merozoite invasion but does not decrease binding of the rhoptry proteins to the mouse erythrocyte. The mouse erythrocyte serves as a useful model to study the receptor-ligand interaction of rhoptry proteins and host surface proteins and to define the role of the rhoptry proteins during the invasion process. © 1990.