Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Computation, collaboration lead to significant advance in malaria

Date:
August 14, 2014
Source:
Baylor College of Medicine
Summary:
A new computational method has been developed to study the function of disease-causing genes, starting with an important new discovery about a gene associated with malaria -- one of the biggest global health burdens. The researchers came up with a computational method that allows biological information to literally flow from gene to gene across a massive network across many genomes, known as the "supergenomic" network.

Researchers led by Baylor College of Medicine have developed a new computational method to study the function of disease-causing genes, starting with an important new discovery about a gene associated with malaria -- one of the biggest global health burdens.

Related Articles


The work published in the current issue of the journal Cell includes collaborators comprised of computational and evolutionary biologists and leading malaria experts from Baylor, Columbia University Medical Center, Princeton University, Pennsylvania State University and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

"Today, rapidly falling costs means that high throughput sequencing projects are revealing the entire gene sequences of ever more species, but the biological functions of most of these genes remain unknown," said Dr. Olivier Lichtarge, professor of molecular and human genetics and director of the Computational and Integrative Biomedical Research Center at Baylor and senior author of the report. "To address this problem, our lab has developed new methods to predict gene and protein functions."

Dr. Andreas Martin Lisewski, an instructor in Lichtarge's lab at Baylor, served as the leading author on the report.

The researchers came up with a computational method that allows biological information to literally flow from gene to gene across a massive network across many genomes, known as the "supergenomic" network.

"The network connects millions of genes from hundreds of species based on their interactions within the organism or based on their ancestral relations between different species," said Lisewski. "Normally, computing the flow of functional information would be costly and slow, but we developed a compression method that reduces this gigantic network into one that is much smaller and now computationally tractable. The surprise is that these biological networks are compressible much like digital data in today's computers."

To test their method, the researchers looked at functional predictions of a protozoan parasite known to cause the most severe form of malaria in humans -- Plasmodium falciparum. While it has been more than 10 years since the genome of this parasite was fully sequenced, still too little is known about the function for most of its genes.

Every year, malaria affects more than 200 million people and contributes to nearly 1 million deaths worldwide.

"To better understand this disease, we need to identify more functions of the parasite's genes. This understanding may eventually help us to stem the rise of drug-resistant malaria, such as the emerging resistance to artemisinins," said Lisewski.

Artemisinins are a family of drugs that currently form the frontline treatment against Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Artemisinin was originally isolated as an extract from a traditional Chinese herbal remedy, and while it is still highly effective against malaria in patients, the mechanism of action has been unclear. A loss of artemisinin's antimalarial effectiveness due to genetic resistance would have devastating global health consequences.

The researchers honed in on the parasite protein EXP1 that was known to be essential to the malaria parasite but for which there were no details on its function.

Using the network, they showed that this protein enables the parasite to detoxify the main metabolic byproducts it creates in red blood cells. They also demonstrated that it has a direct role in drug action and susceptibility to artesunate, an important member of the artemisinin drug family.

"Through this multi-year collaborative effort, we now have an improved understanding of the protective molecular mechanisms of the malaria parasite and its drug susceptibility to artesunate. As we are witnessing a rise of resistance to artemisinins, these results may help finding new pathways to successor drugs," said Lichtarge.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Andreas Martin Lisewski, Joel P. Quiros, Caroline L. Ng, Anbu Karani Adikesavan, Kazutoyo Miura, Nagireddy Putluri, Richard T. Eastman, Daniel Scanfeld, Sam J. Regenbogen, Lindsey Altenhofen, Manuel Llinαs, Arun Sreekumar, Carole Long, David A. Fidock, Olivier Lichtarge. Supergenomic Network Compression and the Discovery of EXP1 as a Glutathione Transferase Inhibited by Artesunate. Cell, 2014; 158 (4): 916 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.07.011

Cite This Page:

Baylor College of Medicine. "Computation, collaboration lead to significant advance in malaria." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140814124348.htm>.
Baylor College of Medicine. (2014, August 14). Computation, collaboration lead to significant advance in malaria. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140814124348.htm
Baylor College of Medicine. "Computation, collaboration lead to significant advance in malaria." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140814124348.htm (accessed November 1, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) — The MelaFind device is a pain-free way to check suspicious moles for melanoma, without the need for a biopsy. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Battling Multiple Myeloma

Battling Multiple Myeloma

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) — The answer isn’t always found in new drugs – repurposing an ‘old’ drug that could mean better multiple myeloma treatment, and hope. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) — New information that is linking chronic inflammation in the prostate and prostate cancer, which may help doctors and patients prevent cancer in the future. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) — Blood transfusions are proving crucial to young sickle cell patients by helping prevent strokes, even when there is no outward sign of brain injury. Video provided by Ivanhoe
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