Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Malaria parasite goes bananas before sex

Date:
February 14, 2012
Source:
University of Melbourne
Summary:
New research shows how the malaria parasite changes into a banana shape before sexual reproduction, a finding that could provide targets for vaccine or drug development and may explain how the parasite evades the human immune system.

New research from the University of Melbourne shows how the malaria parasite (Plasmodium falciparum) changes into a banana shape before sexual reproduction, a finding that could provide targets for vaccine or drug development and may explain how the parasite evades the human immune system.

Related Articles


The work was conducted by an Australian research team led by Dr Matthew Dixon and PhD student Megan Dearnley from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Bio21 Institute at the University of Melbourne, and is published in the Journal of Cell Science.

Dr Dixon said the new study solves a 130-year old mystery, revealing how the most deadly of human malaria parasites, Plasmodium falciparum, performs its shape-shifting.

"In 1880 the banana or crescent shape of the malaria parasite was first seen in the blood of a patient. Using a 3D microscope technique, we reveal that malaria uses a scaffold of special proteins to form a banana shape before sexual reproduction," said Dr Dixon.

"As the malaria parasite can only reproduce in its 'banana form', if we can target these scaffold proteins in a vaccine or drug, we may be able to stop it reproducing and prevent malaria transmission entirely."

When in its banana shape, the malaria parasite is passed from a human host to a mosquito where it reproduces in the mosquito gut. The study found that specific proteins form scaffolds, called microtubules, which lie underneath the parasite surface and elongate it into the sexual stage banana shape.

The work suggests that when the parasites are ready for sexual reproduction, they adopt the banana shape so that they can fit through the tiny sinusoidal slits in the spleen. This enables them to avoid the host's mechanical filtering and immune surveillance mechanisms and to survive in the circulation long enough to be picked up by a mosquito and transmitted to the next victim.

The banana shape was revealed in greater detail than ever before by using high-end imaging techniques -- 3D Structured Illumination Microscopy and Cryo Electron Microscopy -- conducted with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coherent X-Ray Science.

One child dies from malaria every minute in Africa. Around the world, the malaria parasite kills more than 600,000 people each year, most of them children and pregnant women, while another 225 million people suffer illness as a result of malaria infections.

The work was funded by NHMRC and ARC.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. M. K. Dearnley, J. A. Yeoman, E. Hanssen, S. Kenny, L. Turnbull, C. B. Whitchurch, L. Tilley, M. W. A. Dixon. Origin, composition, organization and function of the inner membrane complex of Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes. Journal of Cell Science, 2012; DOI: 10.1242/jcs.099002

Cite This Page:

University of Melbourne. "Malaria parasite goes bananas before sex." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120214100940.htm>.
University of Melbourne. (2012, February 14). Malaria parasite goes bananas before sex. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120214100940.htm
University of Melbourne. "Malaria parasite goes bananas before sex." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120214100940.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
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
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
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


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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