Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study explaining parasite gene expression could help fight toxoplasmosis, malaria

Date:
January 3, 2014
Source:
Indiana University
Summary:
A newly identified protein and other proteins it interacts with could become effective targets for new drugs to control the parasite that cause toxoplasmosis, researchers reported.

A newly identified protein and other proteins it interacts with could become effective targets for new drugs to control the parasite that cause toxoplasmosis, researchers led by investigators at Indiana University School of Medicine have reported. The discovery could also open new research pathways for treatments for malaria.

Related Articles


The researchers determined that the protein, an enzyme called GCN5b, is necessary for the Toxoplasma parasite to replicate, so interfering with its activities could control the parasite. GCN5b is part of the molecular machinery that turns genes on and off in the parasite, working with other proteins that, the researchers discovered, are more plant-like than their counterparts in humans.

"GCN5b is a very different protein than its human counterpart, and proteins it interacts with are not found in humans," said William J. Sullivan Jr., Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology.

"That's what makes this exciting -- rather than just having one enzyme that we could go after, there could be a whole collection of associated enzyme components that could be potentially targeted for drug therapies to control this parasite," he said.

In discovering that some of the proteins interacting with GCN5b are plant-like transcription factors -- proteins that bind to DNA -- the researchers filled in what had been a missing link explaining how the parasites control the process of turning genes on and off, known as gene expression. The plant-like transcription factors recruit the GCN5b enzyme complex to activate a wide variety of genes for expression.

When the research team disabled the GCN5b complex, parasite replication swiftly came to a halt.

Dr. Sullivan and his colleagues reported their findings in the Jan. 2, 2014, online edition of the journal PLOS Pathogens.

An estimated 60 million people in the United States are infected with the toxoplasmosis parasite, but in most cases the infection produces flu-like symptoms or no symptoms at all. However, for people with immune system problems -- such as those undergoing chemotherapy or people with AIDS -- the disease can cause serious effects including lung problems, blurred vision and seizures. Also, infants born to mothers who are infected for the first time during or shortly before pregnancy are at risk for severe complications, miscarriages or stillbirths.

One of the most common routes to human infection is via cats, in particular their feces or litter. Eating undercooked meat from infected livestock can also result in human infection.

Although there are anti-parasitic drugs available to treat acute episodes of toxoplasmosis, it's currently impossible to completely eliminate the parasite because it can switch from an active to a latent cyst form in the body. Since GCN5b is active during both acute and latent stages, the enzyme and its associating components are very promising candidates for drug targeting, Dr. Sullivan said. Because the transcription factors are plant-like proteins not found in humans, drugs targeting them would be much less likely to affect human proteins and cause adverse effects.

Researchers also use Toxoplasma as a model organism for the malaria parasite Plasmodium, meaning much of what is learned about Toxoplasma could lead to new treatments for a disease that struck an estimated 207 million people worldwide in 2012 and caused an estimated 627,000 deaths, most of them children. Dr. Sullivan noted that the malaria parasite also possesses a GCN5 enzyme, as well as the plant-like proteins.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Jiachen Wang, Stacy E. Dixon, Li-Min Ting, Ting-Kai Liu, Victoria Jeffers, Matthew M. Croken, Myrasol Calloway, Dominique Cannella, Mohamed Ali Hakimi, Kami Kim, William J. Sullivan. Lysine Acetyltransferase GCN5b Interacts with AP2 Factors and Is Required for Toxoplasma gondii Proliferation. PLoS Pathogens, 2014; 10 (1): e1003830 DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1003830

Cite This Page:

Indiana University. "Study explaining parasite gene expression could help fight toxoplasmosis, malaria." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140103085634.htm>.
Indiana University. (2014, January 3). Study explaining parasite gene expression could help fight toxoplasmosis, malaria. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140103085634.htm
Indiana University. "Study explaining parasite gene expression could help fight toxoplasmosis, malaria." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140103085634.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. 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:

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