Erythrocytes and platelets are the two most abundant cells of the bloodstream, and consequently are in continual physical contact with each other. Although direct cell-to-cell binding and platelet activation is minimal, and probably tightly regulated to prevent potential collateral damage, beneficial platelet erythrocyte interactions can still occur. Platelets frequently bind to Plasmodium-infected erythrocytes during malarial infection and kill the parasite by releasing of platelet anti-microbial proteins. Platelets can also bind to ageing erythrocytes in the circulation, and that these complexes are targeted for specific removal.
The aim of this project is to characterise the platelet and red cell molecules that mediate cell-cell binding and investigate the roles of these molecules in pathogen and senescent erythrocyte clearance.