The Francis Crick Institute
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Characterization of the Plasmodium Interspersed Repeats (PIR) proteins of Plasmodium chabaudi indicates functional diversity

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-10-15, 08:39 authored by Xue Yan Yam, Thibaut Brugat, Anthony Siau, Jennifer Lawton, Daniel S Wong, Abdirahman Farah, Jing Shun Twang, Xiaohong Gao, Jean Langhorne, Peter R Preiser
Plasmodium multigene families play a central role in the pathogenesis of malaria. The Plasmodium interspersed repeat (pir) genes comprise the largest multigene family in many Plasmodium spp. However their function(s) remains unknown. Using the rodent model of malaria, Plasmodium chabaudi, we show that individual CIR proteins have differential localizations within infected red cell (iRBC), suggesting different functional roles in a blood-stage infection. Some CIRs appear to be located on the surface of iRBC and merozoites and are therefore well placed to interact with host molecules. In line with this hypothesis, we show for the first time that a subset of recombinant CIRs bind mouse RBCs suggesting a role for CIR in rosette formation and/or invasion. Together, our results unravel differences in subcellular localization and ability to bind mouse erythrocytes between the members of the cir family, which strongly suggest different functional roles in a blood-stage infection.