Successful Plasmodium falciparum invasion of red blood cells includes the orderly execution of highly specific receptor-ligand molecular interactions between the parasite's proteins and the red blood cell membrane proteins. There is a growing need for elucidating receptor-ligand pairings, which will help in understanding the parasite's biology and provide the fundamental basis for developing prophylactic or therapeutic alternatives leading to mitigating or eliminating this type of malaria. We have thus used Plasmodium falciparum RH5 - derived peptides and ghost red blood cell proteins in synthetic peptide affinity capture assays to identify important host receptors used by Plasmodium spp. in the invasion of red blood cells. LC-MS/MS analysis confirmed the extensively described interaction between PfRH5 and the basigin receptor on the red blood cell membrane. As shown here, tagged synthetic peptides displaying high binding ability to erythrocytes can be used to identify receptors present in protein extracts from ghost red blood cells via affinity capture and LC-MS/MS. Significance: The article describes a novel approach for identifying red blood cell receptors based on the ability of synthetic peptides having high red blood cell binding capacity to capture Plasmodium spp. receptors on proteins extracted from ghost red blood cells. Specifically, novel methods to identify Plasmodium falciparum reticulocyte binding protein homolog 5 PfRH5 and basigin interaction using a combination of affinity capture and LC-MS/MS assays is described. Identification of these host RBC receptors interacting with malarial parasite proteins is of utmost importance in studying the disease's pathogenesis and will provide crucial information in understanding the parasite's biology. In addition, data from these studies can be used to identify potential therapeutic target(s) to mitigate or eliminate this debilitating disease.
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