Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

K-State researchers study insects’ immune system

02.09.2005


How insects avoid getting diseases they can carry and spread to humans is the focus of research at Kansas State University.



Mike Kanost, university distinguished professor of biochemistry and head of the department of biochemistry, and researchers in his lab are studying how insects protect themselves against infection. They think the answer lies in insects’ blood, specifically proteins.

The researchers have made progress in understanding which molecules are present in the blood and their functions. The group also has identified proteins involved in the immune response that cause melanin - a coating of black pigment - to be synthesized and deposited on the surface of the pathogen.


The goal of their research is to understand how insects recognize infection caused by microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria and fungi, and the pathway of reactions that follow in the immune system.

Studying the immune system of insects is important because it can lead to useful knowledge for the improvement of biological pesticides, Kanost said. Such a method of pest control only kills specific insects and is safe for humans.

A recent development for Kanost’s group is the transition from studying caterpillars to studying mosquitoes, which have a more direct impact on humans. Understanding how proteins in mosquitoes’ blood function in immune responses may help identify ways to disrupt disease transmission by blood-feeding insects. Knowledge gained from examining caterpillars is being used to understand the mosquito’s immune system, Kanost said.

For a mosquito to bite one human, acquire a disease and then transfer it to the next person it bites poses an interesting concept for researchers. For the disease to spread, it has to survive for a certain period of time in the mosquito. The question is, how does the pathogen survive?

For a disease like malaria, the parasite has to live in an insect’s blood for part of its life cycle, all the while exposed to the mosquito’s immune system. A successful parasite has to avoid the immune system or be able to defend against it. Understanding how a pathogen can survive might result in ways to disrupt the transmission of diseases, Kanost said.

"Insects are the most abundant kind of animal," he said. "They’re very successful animals. If you want to understand biology, understanding insects is important.

"We’re at a point now where we understand at least some of what the immune responses are but how they are regulated is a big question we need to study," Kanost said. "To me, one of the aspects that’s interesting is even if we understand the immune system of one species of insect very well, there are millions of species of insects and they’re all different from each other. Even though they will have some things in common, there’s a lot to do for many lifetimes for people doing research on biochemistry in insects."

Researchers involved with the study include Maureen Gorman, research assistant professor in biochemistry, and Chansak Suwanchaichinda and Shufei Zhuang, both postdoctoral biochemistry research associates.

K-State students taking part in the research are Ana Fraire, junior in biochemistry and pre-medicine, Liberal; and Craig Doan, sophomore in biochemistry, Rose Ochieng, senior in biochemistry and pre-medicine, and Emily Ragan, graduate student in biochemistry, all of Manhattan.

Mike Kanost | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.k-state.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>