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Using sorbitol-synchronised cultures and metabolic labelling with [35S]methionine, the stage specificity of polypeptides synthesised by the intraerythrocytic stages of Plasmodium falciparum was studied. We confirmed that the synthesis of many polypeptides is restricted to defined morphological stages of parasite development, while other polypeptides are synthesised more or less throughout the cycle. The synthesis of at least 6 polypeptides was confined to the period of differentiation of mature trophozoites to schizonts and merozoites. Polypeptides synthesised by a cloned long-term passage isolate were very similar to those of a recently cultured uncloned isolate. Comparison of polypeptides synthesized during differentiation of mature trophozoites to schizonts and merozoites by P. falciparum with those of P. chabaudi and P. knowlesi showed that while P. chabaudi and P. knowlesi synthesised a 250 000 molecular weight polypeptide at this stage the apparently equivalent polypeptide of P. falciparum was of significantly lower molecular weight being 200 000. Using a surface immunoprecipitation technique, it was shown that this 200 000 mol. wt. polypeptide was accessible to antibodies on the surface of erythrocytes infected with mature trophozoites and schizonts. A 150 000 mol. wt. polypeptide was also accessible to antibodies. By comparing polypeptides synthesised during the differentiation of mature trophozoites to schizonts and merozoites with those recovered in the ring stage parasites after schizogony and erythrocyte invasion, it was shown that this 200 000 mol. wt. polypeptide and 140 000 and 120 000 mol. wt. polypeptides were not taken into the erythrocyte by the invading merozoite. The importance of these polypeptides in terms of the parasite biology and in the induction and expression of immunity to malaria is discussed.


Journal article


Mol Biochem Parasitol

Publication Date





227 - 240


Animals, Erythrocytes, Female, Macaca mulatta, Malaria, Male, Mice, Mice, Inbred CBA, Monkey Diseases, Peptide Biosynthesis, Plasmodium, Plasmodium falciparum, Rodent Diseases