The skeleton of the malaria parasite reveals its secrets

Plasmodium is the parasite causing malaria, one of the deadliest parasitic diseases. The parasite requires two hosts —the Anopheles mosquito and the human— to complete its life cycle and goes through different forms at each stage of its life cycle. Transitioning from one form to the next involves a massive reorganisation of the cytoskeleton. Paul Guichard and Virginie Hamel’s group, in collaboration with Mathieu Brochet‘s group from the CMU, has shed new light on the cytoskeleton organisation in Plasmodium. Their research details the organisation of the parasite’s skeleton at an unprecedented scale, adapting a recently developed technique called expansion microscopy. Cells are “inflated” before imaging, providing access to more structural details, at a nanometric scale. The study identifies traces of an organelle called “conoid”, which was thought to be lacking in this species despite its crucial role in host invasion of closely related parasites.

The article was published in PLOS Biology on March 11, 2021.

Press release

This study is also covered by other media :

Du nouveau sur le parasite de la malaria RTS La 1ère / Journal 10h / CQFD*, 12.03.2021