Autophagy in Plasmodium, a multifunctional pathway?

Adelaide U P Hain, Jürgen Bosch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Autophagy is a catabolic process that normally utilizes the lysosome. The far-reaching implications of this system in disease are being increasingly understood. Studying autophagy is complicated by its role in cell survival and programmed cell death and the involvement of the canonical marker of autophagy, Atg8/LC3, in numerous non-autophagic roles. The malaria parasite, Plasmodium, has conserved certain aspects of the autophagic machinery but for what purpose has long remained a mystery. Major advances have recently been gained and suggest a role for Atg8 in apicoplast maintenance, degradation of heme inside the food vacuole, and possibly trafficking of proteins or organelles outside the parasite membrane. Autophagy may also participate in programmed cell death under drug treatment or as a selective tool to limit parasite load. We review the current findings and discuss discrepancies in the field of autophagy in the Plasmodium parasite.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbera2
JournalComputational and Structural Biotechnology Journal
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2013


  • Apicoplast
  • Atg
  • Digestive vacuole
  • Heme
  • Plasmodium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Genetics
  • Computer Science Applications


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