Plasmodium helical interspersed subtelomeric family—an enigmatic piece of the Plasmodium biology puzzle

  • Vikash Kumar
  • Ankita Behl
  • Rachana Sharma
  • Aanchal Sharma
  • Rachna HoraEmail author
Immunology and Host-Parasite Interactions - Review


Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) refurbishes the infected erythrocytes by exporting a myriad of parasite proteins to the host cell. A novel exported protein family ‘Plasmodium Helical Interspersed Subtelomeric’ (PHIST) has gained attention for its significant roles in parasite biology. Here, we have collected and analysed available information on PHIST members to enhance understanding of their functions, varied localization and structure-function correlation. Functional diversity of PHIST proteins is highlighted by their involvement in PfEMP1 (Pf erythrocyte membrane protein 1) expression, trafficking and switching. This family also contributes to cytoadherence, gametocytogenesis, host cell modification and generation of extracellular vesicles. While the PHIST domain forms the hallmark of this family, existence and functions of additional domains (LyMP, TIGR01639) and the MEC motif underscores its diversity further. Since specific PHIST proteins seem to form pairs with PfEMP1 members, we have used in silico tools to predict such potential partners in Pf. This information and our analysis of structural data on a PHIST member provide important insights into their functioning. This review overall enables readers to view the PHIST family comprehensively, while highlighting key knowledge gaps in the field.


Malaria Plasmodium falciparum PHIST PfEMP1 Cytoadherence MEC motif 


Supplementary material

436_2019_6420_MOESM1_ESM.docx (15 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 15 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vikash Kumar
    • 1
  • Ankita Behl
    • 2
  • Rachana Sharma
    • 1
  • Aanchal Sharma
    • 1
  • Rachna Hora
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Molecular Biology and BiochemistryGuru Nanak Dev UniversityAmritsarIndia
  2. 2.Department of BiotechnologyGuru Nanak Dev UniversityAmritsarIndia

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