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Many protozoans of the phylum Apicomplexa are invasive parasites that exhibit a substrate-dependent gliding motility. Plasmodium (malaria) sporozoites, the stage of the parasite that invades the salivary glands of the mosquito vector and the liver of the vertebrate host, express a surface protein called thrombospondin-related anonymous protein (TRAP) that has homologs in other Apicomplexa. By gene targeting in a rodent Plasmodium, we demonstrate that TRAP is critical for sporozoite infection of the mosquito salivary glands and the rat liver, and is essential for sporozoite gliding motility in vitro. This suggests that in Plasmodium sporozoites, and likely in other Apicomplexa, gliding locomotion and cell invasion have a common molecular basis.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





511 - 522


Animals, Anopheles, Cloning, Molecular, Digestive System, Erythrocytes, Genes, Protozoan, Liver, Movement, Plasmodium berghei, Polymerase Chain Reaction, Protozoan Proteins, Rats, Recombinant Proteins, Salivary Glands, Spores