Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Potential malaria drug target identified

25.11.2005


Researchers have identified an enzyme crucial to the malaria parasite’s invasion of red blood cells, according to a study in the open-access journal, PLoS Pathogens.



"The most exciting practical implication of this work is that it identifies a potential drug target that is quite different from anything that is targeted by existing antimalarial drugs," Blackman says. "This is very important, since it is widely agreed that the best way to prevent the appearance of drug resistance in any pathogen is to use combinations of drugs that target distinct biochemical pathways."

The most severe form of malaria, a disease that affects over 300 million people annually, is caused by the single-celled parasite Plasmodium falciparum, which was the focus of the study.


A number of different proteins on the surface of malaria parasites help the invaders bind to red blood cells. But once attached to host blood cells, the parasites need to shed the "sticky" surface proteins that would otherwise interfere with entrance into the cell.

"What we have discovered is the parasite enzyme -we refer to it as a ’sheddase’- which sheds the sticky proteins," says Michael Blackman, senior author of the study and parasitologist at London’s National Institute for Medical Research. The enzyme, called PfSUB2, is required for the parasites to invade cells; without it, the parasites die.

The results also shed light on the fundamental mechanisms malaria parasites use to infect cells. "The malaria parasite is related to several other major pathogens, all of which invade cells in a similar manner, so work such as this can have wide-ranging implications," according to Blackman.

Blackman’s team has worked on malarial surface proteins for over 15 years. "We predicted that this enzyme must have the capacity to ’move’ across the surface of the parasite, since the proteins that are shed are themselves distributed all over the parasite surface," he says.

A major challenge in the study was to visualize that motion. "To overcome this, we genetically modified the parasite by ’tagging’ PfSUB2 so that we could visually follow its movement within the parasite. It was only by doing this that we were able to see that PfSUB2 is secreted onto and across the parasite surface," he says.

The enzyme is stored in and released from cellular compartments near the tip of the parasite, according to the study. Once on the surface, the enzyme attaches to a motor that shuttles it from front to back, liberating the sticky surface proteins. With these proteins removed, the parasite gains entrance into a red blood cell. The entire invasion lasts about 30 seconds.

By designing a specific inhibitor that impeded the ability to shed the sticky proteins, Blackman and his team interfered with the enzyme’s normal functioning. A drug--yet to be designed--could possibly do the same, preventing the parasites from infecting blood cells.

Tim Sullivan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.plos.org
http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.0010029

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 >>>