Plasmodium falciparum extensively modifies the infected red blood cell (RBC), resulting in changes in deformability, shape and surface properties. These alterations suggest that the RBC cytoskeleton is a major target for modification during infection. However, the molecular mechanisms leading to these changes are largely unknown. To begin to address this question, we screened for exported P. falciparum proteins that bound to the erythrocyte cytoskeleton proteins ankyrin 1 (ANK1) and band 4.1 (4.1R), which form critical interactions with other cytoskeletal proteins that contribute to the deformability and stability of RBCs. Yeast two-hybrid screens with ANK1 and 4.1R identified eight interactions with P. falciparum exported proteins, including an interaction between 4.1R and PF3D7_0402000 (PFD0090c). This interaction was first identified in a large-scale screen (Vignali et al., Malaria J, 7:211, 2008), which also reported an interaction between PF3D7_0402000 and ANK1. We confirmed the interactions of PF3D7_0402000 with 4.1R and ANK1 in pair-wise yeast two-hybrid and co-precipitation assays. In both cases, an intact PHIST domain in PF3D7_0402000 was required for binding. Complex purification followed by mass spectrometry analysis provided additional support for the interaction of PF3D7_0402000 with ANK1 and 4.1R. RBC ghost cells loaded with maltose-binding protein (MBP)-PF3D7_0402000 passed through a metal microsphere column less efficiently than mock- or MBP-loaded controls, consistent with an effect of PF3D7_0402000 on RBC rigidity or membrane stability. This study confirmed the interaction of PF3D7_0402000 with 4.1R in multiple independent assays, provided the first evidence that PF3D7_0402000 also binds to ANK1, and suggested that PF3D7_0402000 affects deformability or membrane stability of uninfected RBC ghosts.
Shakya, B., Penn, W. D., Nakayasu, E. S., & LaCount, D. J. (2017). The Plasmodium falciparum exported protein PF3D7_0402000 binds to erythrocyte ankyrin and band 4.1. Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology, 216, 5–13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molbiopara.2017.06.002