Protein targeting in malaria parasites is a complex process, involving several cellular compartments that distinguish these cells from more familiar systems, such as yeast or mammals. At least a dozen distinct protein destinations are known. The best studied of these is the vestigial chloroplast (the apicoplast), but new tools promise rapid progress in understanding how Plasmodium falciparum and related apicomplexan parasites traffic proteins to their invasion-related organelles, and how they modify the host by trafficking proteins into its cytoplasm and plasma membrane. Here, Giel van Dooren and colleagues discuss recent insights into protein targeting via the secretory pathway in this fascinating and important system. This topic emerged as a major theme at the Molecular Approaches to Malaria conference, Lorne, Australia, 2-5 February 2000. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.
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