Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unveiling malaria's 'cloak of invisibility'

Date:
January 22, 2012
Source:
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Summary:
Scientists have discovered a molecule that is key to malaria's 'invisibility cloak.' The research will help to better understand how the parasite causes disease and escapes from the defenses mounted by the immune system.

Professor Alan Cowman (above) and colleagues have discovered a molecule that is key to malaria's 'invisibility cloak'.
Credit: Image courtesy of Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

The discovery by researchers from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of a molecule that is key to malaria's 'invisibility cloak' will help to better understand how the parasite causes disease and escapes from the defences mounted by the immune system.

Related Articles


The research team, led by Professor Alan Cowman from the institute's Infection and Immunity division, has identified one of the crucial molecules that instructs the parasite to employ its invisibility cloak to hide from the immune system, and helps its offspring to remember how to 'make' the cloak.

In research published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, Professor Cowman and colleagues reveal details about the first molecule found to control the genetic expression of PfEMP1 (Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1), a protein that is known to be a major cause of disease during malaria infection.

"The molecule that we discovered, named PfSET10, plays an important role in the genetic control of PfEMP1; an essential parasite protein that is used during specific stages of parasite development for its survival," Professor Cowman said.

"This is the first protein that has been found at what we call the 'active' site, where control of the genes that produce PfEMP1 occurs. Knowing the genes involved in the production of PfEMP1 is key to understanding how this parasite escapes the defenses deployed against it by our immune system," he said.

PfEMP1 plays two important roles in malaria infection. It enables the parasite to stick to cells on the internal lining of blood vessels, which prevents the infected cells from being eliminated from the body. It is also responsible for helping the parasite to escape destruction by the immune system, by varying the genetic code of the PfEMP1 protein so that at least some of the parasites will evade detection. This variation lends the parasite the 'cloak of invisibility' which makes it difficult for the immune system to detect parasite-infected cells, and is part of the reason a vaccine has remained elusive.

Professor Cowman said identification of the PfSET10 molecule was the first step towards unveiling the way in which the parasite uses PfEMP1 as an invisibility cloak to hide itself from the immune system. "As we better understand the systems that control how the PfEMP1 protein is encoded and produced by the parasite, including the molecules that are involved in controlling the process, we will be able to produce targeted treatments that would be more effective in preventing malaria infection in the approximately 3 billion people who are at risk of contracting malaria worldwide," he said.

Each year more than 250 million people are infected with malaria and approximately 655,000 people, mostly children, die. Professor Cowman has spent more than 30 years studying Plasmodium falciparum, the most lethal of the four Plasmodium species, with the aim of developing new vaccines and treatments for the disease.

The research was carried out in collaboration with scientists from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Nijmegen Center for Molecular Life Sciences, Cell-free Science and Technology Research Center and The Royal Melbourne Hospital. The research was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Victorian Government.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jennifer C. Volz, Richard Bártfai, Michaela Petter, Christine Langer, Gabrielle A. Josling, Takafumi Tsuboi, Frank Schwach, Jake Baum, Julian C. Rayner, Henk G. Stunnenberg, Michael F. Duffy, Alan F. Cowman. PfSET10, a Plasmodium falciparum Methyltransferase, Maintains the Active var Gene in a Poised State during Parasite Division. Cell Host & Microbe, 2012; 11 (1): 7 DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2011.11.011

Cite This Page:

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. "Unveiling malaria's 'cloak of invisibility'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120118123050.htm>.
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. (2012, January 22). Unveiling malaria's 'cloak of invisibility'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120118123050.htm
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. "Unveiling malaria's 'cloak of invisibility'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120118123050.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) — Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) — A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) — Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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