Leucine-Rich Repeat Protein Complex Activates Mosquito Complement in Defense Against Plasmodium Parasites

Leucine-rich repeat–containing proteins are central to host defense in plants and animals. We show that in the mosquito Anopheles gambiae, two such proteins that antagonize malaria parasite infections, LRIM1 and APL1C, circulate in the hemolymph as a high-molecular-weight complex held together by disulfide bridges. The complex interacts with the complement C3-like protein, TEP1, promoting its cleavage or stabilization and its subsequent localization on the surface of midgut-invading Plasmodium berghei parasites, targeting them for destruction. LRIM1 and APL1C are members of a protein family with orthologs in other disease vector mosquitoes and appear to be important effectors in innate mosquito defenses against human pathogens.