Defining the essential functions of red blood cell modifying proteins in malaria parasites
- Research Opportunity
- Honours students
- Number of Honour Places Available
- Department / Centre
- Infectious Diseases
- Burnet Institute
|A/Prof Paul Gilsonemail@example.com||85062481|
|Dr Hayley Bullenfirstname.lastname@example.org|
Summary Infection with malaria-causing Plasmodium parasites afflicts hundreds of millions of people per year, tragically resulting in nearly half a million deaths. The development of new drugs and vaccines can be informed by greater knowledge of the parasite’s biology. This project seeks to understand how parasites extensively modify the red blood cells (RBC) they infect by studying the multitude of proteins the parasite exports into the RBC compartment. In particular, several exported proteins predicted to be essential for parasite survival will be studied to determine what functions they perform and how this contributes to parasite proliferation and immune evasion.
Infection with Plasmodium falciparum parasites results in approximately half a million deaths from malaria disease annually. Underpinning parasite replication in blood stages of the disease and the ability of parasites to escape immune detection within the human erythrocyte is the Plasmodium translocon of exported proteins (PTEX). PTEX is crucial to blood-stage growth and virulence of malaria parasites. This complex sits within the parasitophorous vacuole membrane (PVM) and serves to export hundreds of effector proteins into the infected erythrocyte cytosol. About a fifth of these exported proteins are essential for parasite function, but their precise roles within the parasite are yet to be determined. This project will involve characterising the role of a set of essential exported proteins, with a view to identifying novel essential functions. Specifically, we will employ a plethora of phenotyping assays to pinpoint the exact role of each protein. This project has the potential to unveil novel parasite functions which in turn may highlight novel areas for intervention.
Faculty Research Themes
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Department / Centre
Research NodeBurnet Institute
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