In a recent issue of Cell Reports, scientists have used super-resolution microscopy to provide a sharp view of the geodesic mesh that supports the outer membrane of a red blood cell. This helps to explain why such cells are sturdy yet flexible enough to squeeze through narrow capillaries as they carry oxygen to our tissues.
In time, this discovery could help uncover how the malaria parasite hijacks this mesh when it invades and eventually destroys red blood cells.
The parasite interacts with the mesh, called the sub-membrane cytoskeleton, said Ke Xu, an assistant professor of chemistry. "Now that we have resolved what is really going on in a normal healthy cell, we can ask what changes under infection with parasites and how drugs affect the interaction."
Pan L, Yan R, Li W, et al. Super-resolution microscopy reveals the native ultrastructure of the erythrocyte cytoskeleton. Cell Rep. 2018(5):1151-1158. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.12.107.
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