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After the bite of an infected mosquito, malaria parasites first reach the liver with the blood stream. Like other cells of higher organisms, liver cells can destroy invading pathogens simply by surrounding them with a membrane and digesting them. Some malaria parasites, however, manage to escape this attack – the liver cells digest themselves instead. The nutrients released are being used by the parasites for their rapid production of thousands of daughter cells. For this strategy they pay a high toll, however, because a large number of parasites are indeed being digested and destroyed.
Graewe S. et al., FEMS Microb Rev 2011, epub
Monica Prado, Nina Eickel, Stefanie Graewe, Ulrike Fröhlke, Volker Heussler and external cooperation partners (see publication)