Malaria kills more than 1 million people per year worldwide, with severe malaria anemia accounting for the majority of the deaths. Malaria anemia is multifactorial in etiology, including infected erythrocyte destruction and decrease in erythrocyte production, as well as destruction or clearance of noninfected erythrocytes. We identified a panspecies Plasmodium hemolysin type III related to bacterial hemolysins. The identification of a hemolysin III homologue in Plasmodium suggests a potential role in host erythrocyte lysis. Here, we report the first characterization of Plasmodium falciparum hemolysin III, showing that the soluble recombinant P. falciparum hemolysin III is a pore-forming protein capable of lysing human erythrocytes in a dose-, time-, and temperature-dependent fashion. The recombinant P. falciparum hemolysin III-induced hemolysis was partially inhibited by glibenclamide, a known channel antagonist. Studies with polyethylene glycol molecules of different molecular weights indicated a pore size of approximately 3.2 nm. Heterologous expression of recombinant P. falciparum hemolysin III in Xenopus oocytes demonstrated early hypotonic lysis similar to that of the pore-forming aquaporin control. Live fluorescence microscopy localized transfected recombinant green fluorescent protein (GFP)-tagged P. falciparum hemolysin III to the essential digestive vacuole of the P. falciparum parasite. These transfected trophozoites also possessed a swollen digestive vacuole phenotype. Native Plasmodium hemolysin III in the digestive vacuole may contribute to lysis of the parasitophorous vacuole membrane derived from the host erythrocyte. After merozoite egress from infected erythrocytes, remnant P. falciparum hemolysin III released from digestive vacuoles could potentially contribute to lysis of uninfected erythrocytes to contribute to severe life-threatening anemia.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology