Overexpression of hepatocyte EphA2 enhances liver-stage infection by Plasmodium vivax
The liver is the first destination of malaria parasites in humans. After reaching the liver by the blood stream, Plasmodium sporozoites cross the liver sinusoid epithelium, enter and exit several hepatocytes, and eventually invade a final hepatocyte host cell. At present, the mechanism of hepatocyte invasion is only partially understood, presenting a key research gap with opportunities for the development of new therapeutics. Recently, human EphA2, a membrane-bound receptor tyrosine kinase, was implicated in hepatocyte infection by the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum and the rodent parasite Plasmodium yoelii, but its role is not known for Plasmodium vivax, a major human parasite whose liver infection poses a specific challenge for malaria treatment and elimination. In this study, the role of EphA2 in P. vivax infection was investigated. It was found that surface expression of several recombinant fragments of EphA2 enhanced the parasite infection rate, thus establishing its role in P. vivax infection. Furthermore, a new permanent cell line (EphA2Extra-HC04) expressing the whole extracellular domain of EphA2 was generated. This cell line supports a higher rate of P. vivax infection and is a valuable tool for P. vivax liver-stage research.
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