Special “scaffold” proteins are responsible for the malaria parasite’s transformation into a banana shape before sexual reproduction, researchers at the University of Melbourne have found. The research explains for the first time how the distinctive alteration actually works.
The transformation into the banana shape precedes the transmission of the parasite from a human host to a mosquito, where the parasite reproduces while still in its elongated form. The research suggests that the special shape allows the parasite to evade its host’s immune system and survive long enough to be transmitted to a new host.
But the study’s key finding is the protein scaffolds, called microtubules, which elongate the parasite into the banana shape.