Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Malaria research begins to bite: Molecular switches pinpointed in control of malaria parasite's life cycle

Date:
October 25, 2010
Source:
University of Nottingham
Summary:
Scientists have pin-pointed the 72 molecular switches that control the three key stages in the life cycle of the malaria parasite and have discovered that over a third of these switches can be disrupted in some way. Their research is a significant breakthrough in the search for cheap and effective vaccines and drugs to stop the transmission of a disease which kills up to a million children a year. Until now little has been known about the cellular processes involved in the development of this deadly disease. The research involved the very first comprehensive functional analysis of protein kinases in any malaria parasite. It is also the largest gene knock-out study in Plasmodium berghei -- a malaria parasite infecting rodents.

Dr. Rita Tewari.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Nottingham

Scientists at The University of Nottingham and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute near Cambridge have pin-pointed the 72 molecular switches that control the three key stages in the life cycle of the malaria parasite and have discovered that over a third of these switches can be disrupted in some way.

Their research which has been funded by Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council (MRC) is a significant breakthrough in the search for cheap and effective vaccines and drugs to stop the transmission of a disease which kills up to a million children a year.

Until now little has been known about the cellular processes involved in the development of this deadly disease. The research, published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, involved the very first comprehensive functional analysis of protein kinases in any malaria parasite. It is also the largest gene knock-out study in Plasmodium berghei -- a malaria parasite infecting rodents.

Dr Rita Tewari, in the School of Biology at The University of Nottingham, led the research. Dr Tewari said: "Blocking parasite transmission is recognised as an important element in the global fight to control malaria. Kinases are a family of proteins which contribute to the control of nearly all cellular processes and have already become major drug targets in the fight against cancer and other diseases. Now we have identified some key regulators that control the transmission of the malaria parasite. Work to develop drugs to eradicate this terrible disease can now focus on the best targets. This study shows how systematic functional studies not only increase our knowledge in understanding complexity of malaria parasite development but also gives us the rational approach towards drug development."

The life cycle of the malaria parasite is complex. Once the mosquito has feasted off infected blood fertilisation takes place within the mosquito. The deadly parasites are then injected back into another host in large numbers when the mosquito bites again. Once inside its mammalian host the parasite first infects the liver where it replicates again. After 48 hours millions of parasites are released into the red bloods cells of its host where they attack in vast numbers overwhelming their host producing high fever and sickness.

Dr Oliver Billker, an expert in pathogen genetics at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said: "This is a major leap forward -- we can now set aside these 23 functionally redundant genes. This act of prioritisation alone has narrowed the set of targets for drug searches by a third. "Our study demonstrates how a large scale gene knockout study can guide drug development efforts towards the right targets. We must now develop the technology to ask across the genome which pathways are important for parasite development and transmission."

As the malaria parasite becomes increasingly resistant to existing drugs and vaccines the race to find ways of blocking the transmission of malaria is becoming increasingly important. Last month the journal PLoS ONE published Dr Tewari's research which identified a protein, PF16, which is critical in the development of the malaria parasite -- specifically the male sex cells (gametes) -- which are essential in the spread by mosquitoes of this lethal parasite. The study, led by The University of Nottingham, found a way of disabling the PF16 protein.

In future studies, Dr Tewari's group is concentrating on the role of other signalling molecules like phosphatases, kinases and armadillo repeat proteins and their interaction in understanding malaria parasite development. The aim is to identify the best drug or vaccine target along the way.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Nottingham. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rita Tewari, Ursula Straschil, Alex Bateman, Ulrike Bφhme, Inna Cherevach, Peng Gong, Arnab Pain, Oliver Billker. The Systematic Functional Analysis of Plasmodium Protein Kinases Identifies Essential Regulators of Mosquito Transmission. Cell Host & Microbe, 2010; 8 (4): 377 DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2010.09.006

Cite This Page:

University of Nottingham. "Malaria research begins to bite: Molecular switches pinpointed in control of malaria parasite's life cycle." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101021090151.htm>.
University of Nottingham. (2010, October 25). Malaria research begins to bite: Molecular switches pinpointed in control of malaria parasite's life cycle. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101021090151.htm
University of Nottingham. "Malaria research begins to bite: Molecular switches pinpointed in control of malaria parasite's life cycle." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101021090151.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) — An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) — The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Newsy (July 23, 2014) — A U.C. San Diego researcher says jealousy isn't just a human trait, and dogs aren't the best at sharing the attention of humans with other dogs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Newsy (July 23, 2014) — ​It's called I Know Where Your Cat Lives, and you can keep hitting the "Random Cat" button to find more real cats all over the world. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins