University of Oulu

Catherine A. Moreau, Katharina A. Quadt, Henni Piirainen, Hirdesh Kumar, Saligram P. Bhargav, Léanne Strauss, Niraj H. Tolia, Rebecca C. Wade, Joachim P. Spatz, Inari Kursula, Friedrich Frischknecht (2020) A function of profilin in force generation during malaria parasite motility that is independent of actin binding. Journal of Cell Science 2021 134: jcs233775,

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

Saved in:
Author: Moreau, Catherine A.1; Quadt, Katharina A.1,2; Piirainen, Henni3;
Organizations: 1Integrative Parasitology, Center for Infectious Diseases, Heidelberg University Medical School, Im Neuenheimer Feld 324, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
2Department of Cellular Biophysics, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research and Laboratory of Biophysical Chemistry, Heidelberg University, Jahnstrasse 29, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
3Biocenter Oulu and Faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, University of Oulu, Aapistie 7, 90220 Oulu, Finland
4Department of Molecular Microbiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, MO 63110, USA
5Center for Molecular Biology (ZMBH), DKFZ-ZMBH Alliance and Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing (IWR), Heidelberg University, Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
6Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS), Schloss-Wolfsbrunnenweg 35, 69118 Heidelberg, Germany
7Department of Biomedicine, University of Bergen, Jonas Lies vei 91, 5009 Bergen, Norway
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 14.8 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Company of Biologists, 2020
Publish Date: 2021-04-15


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, that do not affect 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.

see all

Series: Journal of cell science
ISSN: 0021-9533
ISSN-E: 1477-9137
ISSN-L: 0021-9533
Volume: 134
Issue: 5
Article number: jcs233775
DOI: 10.1242/jcs.233775
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3111 Biomedicine
Funding: This work was funded by grant from the Chica and Heinz Schaller Foundation (Chica and Heinz Schaller-Stiftung;, the Human Frontier Science Program RGY0071/2011 ( and the European Research Council StG 281719 ( to F.F.; the FRONTIER program of Heidelberg University (Universität Heidelberg; http://www.uni-heidelberg. de/exzellenzinitiative/zukunftskonzept/frontier_de. html) to R.C.W.; the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) – Projektnummer 240245660 - SFB 1129 ( to J.S.P. and F.F.; the Academy of Finland grants 257537, 265112 and 292718 ( and the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation (Jane ja Aatos Erkon Säätiö; to I.K.; the Sigrid Jusélius foundation (Sigrid Juséliuksen Säätiö; to S.P.B. and I.K.; the Emil Aaltonen Foundation (Emil Aaltosen Säätiö; to H.P. and I.K.; the Burroughs Wellcome Fund ( to N.H.T. and the Klaus Tschira Foundation (Klaus Tschira Stiftung; to R.C.W. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 257537
Detailed Information: 257537 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
265112 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
292718 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2020. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.