For those stricken with malaria, the classic clinical symptoms are caused by the parasite's cyclic infection of red blood cells. However, this erythrocytic phase of the parasite's life cycle initiates from an asymptomatic pre-erythrocytic phase: the injection of sporozoites via the bite of a parasite-carrying Anopheline mosquito, and the ensuing infection of the liver. With the increased capabilities of studying liver stages in mice, much progress has been made elucidating the cellular and molecular basis of the parasite's progression through this bottleneck of its life cycle. Here we review relevant findings on how sporozoites prepare for infection of the liver and factors crucial to liver stage development as well as key host/parasite interactions.
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