Malaria is transmitted to humans through bites from mosquitoes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 350 million and 500 million cases of malaria occur world-wide annually, and more than 1 million people, mostly children living in areas of Africa south of the Sahara, die each year from it.
For decades, researchers have known that a molecule called glycophorin B, which is found on the surface of human red blood cells, is important for invasion of the malaria parasite. However, the specific molecule by which the malaria parasite attaches itself to invade the host was not known until now.
The team examined how the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, interacts with red blood cells using a biochemical test that looks specifically at how the parasite and host bind to each other. The findings revealed that the EBL-1 molecule is the specific attachment site used by the parasite on glycophorin B.
The study was published online in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of March 9.
"We have now identified how the parasite binds to glycophorin B on the red blood cells. Down the road, the EBL-1 molecule could be used as a vaccine target against malaria as part of a multivalent vaccine, or vaccine cocktail," said principal investigator Ghislaine Mayer, Ph.D., assistant professor in the VCU Department of Biology.
Additionally, Mayer and her team hypothesize that the malaria parasite may be the cause of the loss of the gene for glycophorin B in the pygmies of Ituri forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to Mayer, these findings suggest that the parasite may possibly be putting selective pressure on populations in malaria-endemic areas, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo. She said that there appears to be a disproportionate number of individuals in malaria-endemic areas with unusual or mutated red blood cell surface molecules.
"We think these changes on the surface of the red blood cell may lead to a decrease in the severity of malaria or resistance against malaria. For example, Africans are protected from a form of malaria caused by the Plasmodium vivax parasite because the molecule that the parasite recognizes is missing from the surface of their red blood cells because of a mutation," said Mayer.
Sathya Achia Abraham | EurekAlert!
Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?
21.09.2017 | Boston Children's Hospital
Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex
21.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Hirnforschung
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
21.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.09.2017 | Life Sciences
21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine