The Journal of experimental medicine

CD68 acts as a major gateway for malaria sporozoite liver infection.

PMID 26216124


After being delivered by the bite from an infected mosquito, Plasmodium sporozoites enter the blood circulation and infect the liver. Previous evidence suggests that Kupffer cells, a macrophage-like component of the liver blood vessel lining, are traversed by sporozoites to initiate liver invasion. However, the molecular determinants of sporozoite-Kupffer cell interactions are unknown. Understanding the molecular basis for this specific recognition may lead to novel therapeutic strategies to control malaria. Using a phage display library screen, we identified a peptide, P39, that strongly binds to the Kupffer cell surface and, importantly, inhibits sporozoite Kupffer cell entry. Furthermore, we determined that P39 binds to CD68, a putative receptor for sporozoite invasion of Kupffer cells that acts as a gateway for malaria infection of the liver.