In the October 3 Nature, Laurence Florens and colleagues describe a large-scale proteomic study that complements the genome sequencing approach to understanding the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum (Nature, 419:520-526, October 3, 2002).

The Plasmodium life cycle is extremely complex, as the parasite must adapt to both vertebrate and invertebrate hosts, invade different cell types and evade the immune system. As a consequence of this, not all the stages of the parasite life cycle are amenable to cultivation and characterization in vitro.

Florens et al. analyzed the proteome isolated from different stages; sporozoites (the human infectious form), merozoites (the invasive stage), trophozoites (the form multiplying in erythrocytes) and gametocytes (sexual stages). Using multidimensional protein identification technology (MudPIT) they were able to detect about half of the predicted Plasmodium genes in the four stages — only 6% of proteins were common to all four stages.

The sporozoite proteome was...

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