Perturbation of red cell membrane structure during intracellular maturation of Plasmodium falciparum

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Science  04 Apr 1986:
Vol. 232, Issue 4746, pp. 102-104
DOI: 10.1126/science.3006251


An experimental approach, which in this study was applied to the malarial system, can be used to analyze the molecular structure and organization of individual phospholipids in a wide variety of biological membranes. Electron spin resonance spectroscopy was used to investigate the structural modifications of the major red cell phospholipids that occur in erythrocyte membranes infected with the human malarial parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. These modifications were correlated with the intracellular developmental stage of the parasite. Phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, and phosphatidylserine were increasingly disordered (fluidized) as infection progressed. This disordering occurred at different rates and to varying extents.