Efforts to identify host determinants for malaria have been hindered by the absence of a nucleus in erythrocytes, which precludes genetic manipulation in the cell in which the parasite replicates. We used cultured red blood cells derived from hematopoietic stem cells to carry out a forward genetic screen for Plasmodium falciparum host determinants. We found that CD55 is an essential host factor for P. falciparum invasion. CD55-null erythrocytes were refractory to invasion by all isolates of P. falciparum because parasites failed to attach properly to the erythrocyte surface. Thus, CD55 is an attractive target for the development of malaria therapeutics. Hematopoietic stem cell-based forward genetic screens may be valuable for the identification of additional host determinants of malaria pathogenesis.
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