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A function of profilin in force generation during malaria parasite motility independent of actin binding

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Quadt,  Katherina
Cellular Biophysics, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Max Planck Society;

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Spatz,  Joachim P.
Cellular Biophysics, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Max Planck Society;
Biophysical Chemistry, Institute of Physical Chemistry, University of Heidelberg, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany;

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Citation

Moreau, C. A., Quadt, K., Piirainen, H., Kumar, H., Bhargav, S. P., Strauss, L., et al. (2020). A function of profilin in force generation during malaria parasite motility independent of actin binding. Journal of Cell Science, 233775, pp. 1-55. doi:10.1242/jcs.233775.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-A8E3-D
Abstract
During transmission of malaria-causing parasites from mosquito to mammal, Plasmodium sporozoites migrate at high speed within the skin to access the bloodstream and infect the liver. This unusual gliding motility is based on retrograde flow of membrane proteins and highly dynamic actin filaments that provide short tracks for a myosin motor. Using laser tweezers and parasite mutants, we previously suggested that actin filaments form macromolecular complexes with plasma-membrane spanning adhesins to generate force during migration. Mutations in the actin-binding region of profilin, a near ubiquitous actin-binding protein, revealed that loss of actin binding also correlates with loss of force production and motility. Here we show that different mutations in profilin, not affecting actin binding in vitro, still generate lower force during Plasmodium sporozoite migration. Lower force generation inversely correlates with increased retrograde flow suggesting that, like in mammalian cells, the slow-down of flow to generate force is the key underlying principle governing Plasmodium gliding motility.