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Plasmodia Research

Evolution of Inner Membrane Complex (IMC) in Plasmodium


Apicomplexans form a specific phylum in the supergroup of alveolates. Although alveloates comprise of a diverse group of eukaryotic organisms, from the parasitic apicomplans to the free-living ciliates and photosynthetic dinoflagellates, they share a unifying feature – the inner membrane complex (IMC). The IMC consists of flattened vesicles that underlie plasma membrane and are interconnected with cytoskeleton. It performs various functions ranging from imparting structural shape and stability to being involved in cell motility and host cell invasion. Seventeen IMC specific proteins have been identified in Plasmodium falciparum. Evolutionary studies reveal that some of these are conserved with ancient eukaryotic proteins whereas some are novel apicomplexan innovations, including one specific to Plasmodium. Studies also reveal that IMC is essential for the development of sexual stages in Plasmodium.
Kono, M., Herrmann, S., Loughran, N.B., Cabrera, A., Engelberg, K., Lehmann, C., Sinha, D., Prinz, B., Ruch, U., Heussler, V., Spielman, T., Parkinson, J.* and Gilberger, T.W.* (2012) Evolution and architecture of the inner membrane complex in the asexual and sexual stages of the malaria parasite. Mol. Biol. Evol. 29(9):2113-32. *co-corresponding authors

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