Navigation Links
Malaria parasite goes bananas before sex: New study

New research from the University of Melbourne shows how the malaria parasite (Plasmodium falciparum) changes into a banana shape before sexual reproduction, a finding that could provide targets for vaccine or drug development and may explain how the parasite evades the human immune system.

The work was conducted by an Australian research team led by Dr Matthew Dixon and PhD student Megan Dearnley from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Bio21 Institute at the University of Melbourne, and is published in the Journal of Cell Science today.

Dr Dixon said the new study solves a 130-year old mystery, revealing how the most deadly of human malaria parasites, Plasmodium falciparum performs its shape-shifting.

"In 1880 the banana or crescent shape of the malaria parasite was first seen in the blood of a patient. Using a 3D microscope technique, we reveal that malaria uses a scaffold of special proteins to form a banana shape before sexual reproduction," said Dr Dixon.

"As the malaria parasite can only reproduce in its 'banana form', if we can target these scaffold proteins in a vaccine or drug, we may be able to stop it reproducing and prevent malaria transmission entirely."

When in its banana shape, the malaria parasite is passed from a human host to a mosquito where it reproduces in the mosquito gut. The study found that specific proteins form scaffolds, called microtubules, which lie underneath the parasite surface and elongate it into the sexual stage banana shape.

The work suggests that when the parasites are ready for sexual reproduction, they adopt the banana shape so that they can fit through the tiny sinusoidal slits in the spleen. This enables them to avoid the host's mechanical filtering and immune surveillance mechanisms and to survive in the circulation long enough to be picked up by a mosquito and transmitted to the next victim.

The banana shape was revealed in greater detail than ever before by using high-end imaging techniques - 3D Structured Illumination Microscopy and Cryo Electron Microscopy conducted with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coherent X-Ray Science.

One child dies from malaria every minute in Africa. Around the world, the malaria parasite kills more than 600,000 people each year, most of them children and pregnant women, while another 225 million people suffer illness as a result of malaria infections.

Contact: Nerissa Hannink
University of Melbourne

Related biology news :

1. Test and Treat model offers new strategy for eliminating malaria
2. Notre Dame researchers report fundamental malaria discovery
3. Anti-malaria drug synthesized with the help of oxygen and light
4. Scientists characterize protein essential to survival of malaria parasite
5. Immunological defense mechanism leaves malaria patients vulnerable to deadly infection
6. Cell surface mutation protects against common type of malaria
7. Protection from severe malaria explained
8. Contrasting patterns of malaria drug resistance found between humans and mosquitoes
9. Protein microarrays may reveal new weapons against malaria
10. Dormant malaria parsites in red blood cells may contribute to treatment failure
11. UH engineers finding new ways to fight malaria with DOD grant
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/29/2015)... Oct. 29, 2015  Connected health pioneer, Joseph ... explosion of technology-enabled health and wellness, and the business ... The Internet of Healthy Things . ... smartphones even existed, Dr. Kvedar, vice president, Connected Health, ... care delivery, moving care from the hospital or doctor,s ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... , Oct. 27, 2015 Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... announced that Google has adopted the Synaptics ® ... solutions to power its newest flagship smartphones, the Nexus ... --> --> ... to provide strategic collaboration in the joint development of ...
(Date:10/23/2015)... GOLETA, California , October 23, 2015 ... and SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI) announce a mobile plug and ... captured during interactive real-world tasks SensoMotoric Instruments ... of their established wearable solutions for eye tracking and ... behavior captured with SMI Eye Tracking Glasses 2w ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Jessica Richman and ... early in their initial angel funding process. Now, they are paying it forward ... make early stage investments in the microbiome space. In this, they join ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... The United States Golf Association (USGA) today ... Green Section Award. Presented annually since 1961, the USGA Green Section Award recognizes an ... turfgrass. , Clarke, of Iselin, N.J., is an extension specialist of turfgrass ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... Conference in New York on Wednesday, December ... Helen Torley , president and CEO, will provide a corporate overview. ... New York at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT . ... investor relations, will provide a corporate overview. --> th ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... healthy metabolism. But unless it is bound to proteins, copper is also toxic ... (NIH), researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will conduct a systematic study of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: