Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Monitoring malaria: Genomic activity of the parasite in human blood cells

14.08.2003


Every year, malaria kills as many as 2.5 million people. Ninety percent of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, and most are children. While four species of the single-celled organism Plasmodium cause malaria, Plasmodium falciparum is the deadliest. Harbored in mosquito saliva, the parasite infects its human host as the mosquito feeds on the victim’s blood. Efforts to control the disease have taken on an increased sense of urgency, as more P. falciparum strains show resistance to anti-malarial drugs. To develop new drugs and vaccines that disable the parasite, researchers need a better understanding of the regulatory mechanisms that drive the malarial life cycle. In an article that will appear in the inaugural issue of PLoS Biology (and currently available online at (http://www.plos.org/downloads/malaria_plosbiology.pdf), Joseph DeRisi and colleagues provide the first comprehensive molecular analysis of a key phase of the parasite’s life cycle.



While P. falciparum is a single-celled eukaryotic (nucleated) organism, it leads a fairly complicated life, assuming one form in the mosquito, another when it invades the human liver, and still another in human red blood cells (erythrocytes). The intraerythrocytic developmental cycle (IDC) is the stage of the P. falciparum life cycle associated with the clinical symptoms of malaria. Using data from the recently sequenced P. falciparum genome, the researchers have tracked the expression of all of the parasite’s genes during the IDC.

The pattern of gene expression (which can be thought of as the internal operating system of the cell) during the IDC is strikingly simple. It’s continuous and clock-like progression of gene activation is reminiscent of much simple life forms – such as a virus or phage – while unprecedented for a free living organism. Virus and phage behave like a "just in time" assembly line: components are made only as needed, and only in the amount that is needed. In this respect, malaria resembles a glorified virus.


Given the remarkable coupling of the timing of gene activation with gene function as shown here, this understanding could help identify the biological function of the 60 percent of genes in P. falciparum that encode proteins of unknown function.

P. falciparum appears to be ultra-streamlined and exquisitely tuned to perform a single job: consume, replicate and invade. The simple program regulating the life of P. falciparum may hold the key to its downfall as any perturbation of the regulatory program will likely have dire consequences for the parasite. This offers renewed hope for the design of inhibitory drugs targeted at the regulatory machinery that would irreparably foul the parasite’s regulatory program, ultimately resulting in its death.


Research article: Bozdech Z, Llinás M, Pulliam BL, Wong ED, Zhu J, DeRisi JL (2003). The Transcriptome of the Intraerythrocytic Developmental Cycle of Plasmodium falciparum. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0000005

Barbara Cohen | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.plos.org
http://www.plos.org/downloads/malaria_plosbiology.pdf

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'
16.11.2018 | Purdue University

nachricht Microgel powder fights infection and helps wounds heal
14.11.2018 | Michigan Technological University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'

16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

Good preparation is half the digestion

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Microscope measures muscle weakness

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>