Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study explaining parasite gene expression could help fight toxoplasmosis and malaria

03.01.2014
A newly identified protein and other proteins it interacts with could become effective targets for new drugs to control the parasite that cause toxoplasmosis, researchers led by investigators at Indiana University School of Medicine have reported.

The discovery could also open new research pathways for treatments for malaria.

The researchers determined that the protein, an enzyme called GCN5b, is necessary for the Toxoplasma parasite to replicate, so interfering with its activities could control the parasite. GCN5b is part of the molecular machinery that turns genes on and off in the parasite, working with other proteins that, the researchers discovered, are more plant-like than their counterparts in humans.

"GCN5b is a very different protein than its human counterpart, and proteins it interacts with are not found in humans," said William J. Sullivan Jr., Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology.

"That's what makes this exciting -- rather than just having one enzyme that we could go after, there could be a whole collection of associated enzyme components that could be potentially targeted for drug therapies to control this parasite," he said.

In discovering that some of the proteins interacting with GCN5b are plant-like transcription factors -- proteins that bind to DNA -- the researchers filled in what had been a missing link explaining how the parasites control the process of turning genes on and off, known as gene expression. The plant-like transcription factors recruit the GCN5b enzyme complex to activate a wide variety of genes for expression.

When the research team disabled the GCN5b complex, parasite replication swiftly came to a halt.

Dr. Sullivan and his colleagues reported their findings in the Jan. 2, 2014, online edition of the journal PLOS Pathogens.

An estimated 60 million people in the United States are infected with the toxoplasmosis parasite, but in most cases the infection produces flu-like symptoms or no symptoms at all. However, for people with immune system problems – such as those undergoing chemotherapy or people with AIDS – the disease can cause serious effects including lung problems, blurred vision and seizures. Also, infants born to mothers who are infected for the first time during or shortly before pregnancy are at risk for severe complications, miscarriages or stillbirths.

One of the most common routes to human infection is via cats, in particular their feces or litter. Eating undercooked meat from infected livestock can also result in human infection.

Although there are anti-parasitic drugs available to treat acute episodes of toxoplasmosis, it's currently impossible to completely eliminate the parasite because it can switch from an active to a latent cyst form in the body. Since GCN5b is active during both acute and latent stages, the enzyme and its associating components are very promising candidates for drug targeting, Dr. Sullivan said. Because the transcription factors are plant-like proteins not found in humans, drugs targeting them would be much less likely to affect human proteins and cause adverse effects.

Researchers also use Toxoplasma as a model organism for the malaria parasite Plasmodium, meaning much of what is learned about Toxoplasma could lead to new treatments for a disease that struck an estimated 207 million people worldwide in 2012 and caused an estimated 627,000 deaths, most of them children. Dr. Sullivan noted that the malaria parasite also possesses a GCN5 enzyme, as well as the plant-like proteins.

Other investigators contributing to the research were Jiachen Wang, Stacy E. Dixon, Victoria Jeffers and Ting-Kai Liu of the Indiana University School of Medicine; Li-Min Ting, Matthew M. Croken, Myrasol Calloway and Kami Kim of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, and Dominique Cannella and Mohamed Ali Hakimi of Universite Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France.

The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health: AI077502, AI087625, T32 GM007491 and AI092801. Additional support came from the following NIH-funded shared instrumentation grants: 1S10RR019352 and 1S10RR021056.

Eric Schoch | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.iu.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Some brain tumors may respond to immunotherapy, new study suggests
11.12.2018 | Columbia University Irving Medical Center

nachricht Climate change and air pollution damaging health and causing millions of premature deaths
30.11.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Data storage using individual molecules

Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.

Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Formed to Meet Customers’ Needs – New Laser Beams for Glass Processing

17.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Preserving soil quality in the long term

17.12.2018 | Architecture and Construction

New RNA sequencing strategy provides insight into microbiomes

17.12.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>