20S proteasomes secreted by the malaria parasite promote its growth

Elya Dekel, Dana Yaffe, Irit Rosenhek-Goldian, Gili Ben-Nissan, Yifat Ofir-Birin, Mattia I. Morandi, Tamar Ziv, Xavier Sisquella, Matthew A. Pimentel, Thomas Nebl, Eugene Kapp, Yael Ohana Daniel, Paula Abou Karam, Daniel Alfandari, Ron Rotkopf, Shimrit Malihi, Tal Block Temin, Debakshi Mullick, Or Yam Revach, Ariel RudikNir S. Gov, Ido Azuri, Ziv Porat, Giulia Bergamaschi, Raya Sorkin, Gijs J.L. Wuite, Ori Avinoam, Teresa G. Carvalho, Sidney R. Cohen, Michal Sharon, Neta Regev-Rudzki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mature red blood cells (RBCs) lack internal organelles and canonical defense mechanisms, making them both a fascinating host cell, in general, and an intriguing choice for the deadly malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum (Pf), in particular. Pf, while growing inside its natural host, the human RBC, secretes multipurpose extracellular vesicles (EVs), yet their influence on this essential host cell remains unknown. Here we demonstrate that Pf parasites, cultured in fresh human donor blood, secrete within such EVs assembled and functional 20S proteasome complexes (EV-20S). The EV-20S proteasomes modulate the mechanical properties of naïve human RBCs by remodeling their cytoskeletal network. Furthermore, we identify four degradation targets of the secreted 20S proteasome, the phosphorylated cytoskeletal proteins β-adducin, ankyrin-1, dematin and Epb4.1. Overall, our findings reveal a previously unknown 20S proteasome secretion mechanism employed by the human malaria parasite, which primes RBCs for parasite invasion by altering membrane stiffness, to facilitate malaria parasite growth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1172
Pages (from-to)1172
Number of pages19
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Early online date19 Feb 2021
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Biological Transport/physiology
  • Cytoskeleton/metabolism
  • Erythrocytes/cytology
  • Host-Parasite Interactions/physiology
  • Humans
  • Malaria, Falciparum/metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins/metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Plasmodium falciparum/growth & development
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex/metabolism
  • Proteomics

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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