Plasmodium possesses dynein light chain classes that are unique and conserved across species
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Plasmodium belongs to the phylum Apicomplexa. Within the Apicomplexa, Plasmodium, Toxoplasma and Cryptosporidium are parasites of considerable medical importance while Theileria and Eimeria are animal pathogens. P. falciparum is particularly important as it causes malaria, resulting in more than 1 million deaths each year. The malaria parasite actively invades the host cell in which it propagates and several proteins associated with the apical organelles have been implicated to be crucial in the invasion process. The biogenesis of the apical organelles is not well understood, but several studies indicate that microtubule-based vesicular transport is involved. Vesicular transport proteins are also present in Plasmodium and are presumed to be involved in transcellular transport in infected erythrocytes. Dynein is a multi-subunit motor protein involved in microtubule-based vesicular transport. In this study, we analyzed the cytoplasmic dynein light chains (Dlcs) of P. falciparum since they provide adaptor surface to the cargoes and are likely to be involved in differential transport. Dlcs consist of three different families: TcTex1/2, LC8 and LC7/roadblock. The data presented demonstrate that P. falciparum Dlcs sequences and functional domains show high sequence similarity within the species, but that only the Dlc group 1 (LC8) has a high similarity to human orthologues. TcTex1 and LC7/roadblock have low similarity to human orthologues. This sequence variation could be targeted for vaccine or drug development.