Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
Plasmodium, the causative agent of malaria, employs its own actin/myosin-based motor for forward locomotion, penetration of molecular and cellular barriers, and invasion of target cells. The sporozoite is unique amongst the extracellular Plasmodium developmental forms in that it has to cross considerable distances and different tissues inside the mosquito and vertebrate hosts to ultimately reach a parenchymal liver cell, the proper target cell where to transform and replicate. Throughout this dangerous journey, the parasite alternates between being passively transported by the body fluids and using its own active cellular motility to seamlessly glide through extracellular matrix and cell barriers. But irrespective of the chosen path, the sporozoite is compelled to keep on moving at a fairly fast pace to escape destruction by host defense mechanisms. Here, we highlight and discuss recent findings collected in Plasmodium sporozoites and related parasites that shed new light on the biological significance of apicomplexan motility and on the structure and regulation of the underlying motor machinery.