Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes (IRBCs) synthesize several histidine-rich proteins (HRPs) that accumulate high levels of [3H]histidine but very low levels of amino acids such as [3H]isoleucine or [35S]methionine. We prepared a monoclonal antibody which reacts specifically with one of these HRPs (Pf HRP II) and studied the location and synthesis of this protein during the parasite's intracellular growth. With the knob-positive Malayan Camp strain of P. falciparum, the monoclonal antibody identified a multiplet of protein bands with major species at Mr 72,000 and 69,000. Pf HRP II synthesis began with immature parasites (rings) and continued through the trophozoite stage. The Mr 72,000 band of Pf HRP II, but not the faster moving bands of the multiplet, was recovered as a water-soluble protein from the culture supernatant of intact IRBCs. Approximately 50% of the total [3H]histidine radioactivity incorporated into the Mr 72,000 band was extracellular between 2 and 24 h of culture. Immunofluorescence and cryothin-section immunoelectron microscopy localized Pf HRP II to several cell compartments including the parasite cytoplasm, as concentrated "packets" in the host erythrocyte cytoplasm and at the IRBC membrane. Our results provide evidence for an intracellular route of transport for a secreted malarial protein from the parasite through several membranes and the host cell cytoplasm.

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