Open Access

The apicomplexan inner membrane complex

Maya Kono1,Dhaneswar Prusty2,John Parkinson3,Tim W. Gilberger1,2,*
Department of Molecular Parasitology, Bernhard-Nocht-Institute for Tropical Medicine, Hamburg, Germany
Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, M.G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada
Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
DOI: 10.2741/4157 Volume 18 Issue 3, pp.982-992
Published: 01 June 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Malaria: host-pathogen biology)
*Corresponding Author(s):  
Tim W. Gilberger

Dinoflagellates, apicomplexans and ciliates are members of the monophyletic supergroup of Alveolata. The protists of this phylogenetic cluster have adapted to various ecological niches and lifestyles. Dinoflagellates and cilates can be found in any aquatic environment, whereas the phylum Apicomplexa solely comprises intracellular parasites. Despite their diversity all alveolates are united by the presence of membranous vesicles, so called alveoli, located beneath the plasma membrane. In addition to strengthening the cytoskeleton, these vesicles appear to possess taxon-specific functionality. In dinoflagellates and ciliates the alveoli predominantly play a structural role and can function as calcium stores. However, for the Apicomplexa, the alveolar vesicles -here jointly called the inner membrane complex (IMC)- are additionally involved in invasion of the host cell and are important scaffold elements during cytokinesis. Recent studies shed light on the architecture of the apicomplexan IMC and the number and diversity of its constituent proteins. This plethora of proteins and their varying evolutionary origin underlines the versatility of the IMC as a result of the adaption to a parasitic lifestyle.

Key words

Plasmodium falciparum, Apicomplexa, Inner Membrane Complex, merozoite, cytoskeleton, Review

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Maya Kono, Dhaneswar Prusty, John Parkinson, Tim W. Gilberger. The apicomplexan inner membrane complex. Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark. 2013. 18(3); 982-992.