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Toward a unifying model of malaria-induced channel activity

Bouyer, Guillaume, Egée, Stéphane, Thomas, Serge L.Y.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2007 v.104 no.26 pp. 11044-11049
Plasmodium falciparum, chlorides, electrophysiology, erythrocytes, malaria, models, parasites, zinc
Infection of RBC by the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum activates, at the trophozoite stage, a membrane current 100- to 150-fold larger than in uninfected RBC. This current is carried by small anion channels initially described in supraphysiological ion concentrations (1.115 M Cl⁻) and named plasmodial surface anion channels (PSAC), suggesting their plasmodial origin. Our results obtained with physiological ion concentrations (0.145 M Cl⁻) support the notion that the parasite-induced channels represent enhanced activity versions of anion channels already present in uninfected RBCs. Among them, an 18-pS inwardly rectifying anion channel (IRC) and a 4- to 5-pS small conductance anion channel (SCC) were present in most single-channel recordings of infected membranes. The aim of this study was to clarify disparities in the reported electrophysiological data and to investigate possible technical reasons why these discrepancies have arisen. We demonstrate that PSAC is the supraphysiological correlate of the SCC and is inhibited by Zn²⁺, suggesting that it is a ClC-2 channel. We show that in physiological solutions 80% of the membrane conductance in infected cells can be accounted for by IRC and 20% can be accounted for by SCC whereas in supraphysiological conditions the membrane conductance is almost exclusively carried by SCC (PSAC) because the IRC is functionally turned off.