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In malaria, rosetting is described as a phenomenon where an infected erythrocyte (IRBC) is attached to uninfected erythrocytes (URBC). In some studies, rosetting has been associated with malaria pathogenesis. Here, we have identified a new type of rosetting. Using a step-by-step approach, we identified IGFBP7, a protein secreted by monocytes in response to parasite stimulation, as a rosette-stimulator for Plasmodium falciparum- and P. vivax-IRBC. IGFBP7-mediated rosette-stimulation was rapid yet reversible. Unlike type I rosetting that involves direct interaction of rosetting ligands on IRBC and receptors on URBC, the IGFBP7-mediated, type II rosetting requires two additional serum factors, namely von Willebrand factor and thrombospondin-1. These two factors interact with IGFBP7 to mediate rosette formation by the IRBC. Importantly, the IGFBP7-induced type II rosetting hampers phagocytosis of IRBC by host phagocytes.

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Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore, Singapore.