Membrane-Associated Electron-Dense Material of the Asexual Stages of Plasmodium falciparum: Evidence for Movement from the Intracellular Parasite to the Erythrocyte Membrane

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  • * Institute of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106
  • | ** Malaria Section, Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, NIAID, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20205
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Electron-dense material (EDM) appears at the parasite plasma membrane with trophozoites of several strains of Plasmodium falciparum cultured in vitro. The EDM is also seen associated with unit membrane-bounded Maurer's clefts in K + P. falciparum-infected erythrocytes. The cytoplasmic clefts lack the EDM with K- parasites. Some EDM have the same density and appearance as the material located under knobs at the erythrocyte membrane. The EDM at the parasite plasma membrane is absent with schizonts when expression of new knobs at the erythrocyte membrane appears to have ceased. This electron microscopic study suggests that the parasite-derived EDM is transported from the parasite plasmalemma to the erythrocyte membrane via Maurer's clefts in the erythrocyte cytoplasm.

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