Elucidating mechanisms of extracellular vesicle-mediated cellular communication and stage conversion in malaria parasites


  • Prof Matthias Marti

    University of Glasgow

Project summary

Malaria parasites cycle between an asexual proliferative and a sexual transmission stage during human infection. To enable efficient transmission to the mosquito, vector parasites need to finely tune the balance between asexual reproduction and sexual development. It has been demonstrated that extracellular vesicles can be transferred between parasite-infected red blood cells (iRBCs) and impact the rate of sexual stage activation, or sexual conversion rate. Professor Marti’s group will define the mechanistic basis of vesicle-mediated cellular communication between iRBCs and its link to the regulation of sexual stage formation. This work has the potential to generate new paradigms in our understanding of Plasmodium biology and interactions with the host environment, and possibly in related Apicomplexan parasites. Understanding the mechanistic basis for Plasmodium’s capability to communicate and regulate the rate of reproduction versus transmission also provides a powerful opportunity for novel interventions.