Matthew Berriman of Sanger said, "The results give a fascinating glimpse of how this ancient parasite evolved and highlight unusual metabolic processes that may be exploitable as drug targets."
The project also identified some large families of surface proteins that may help mediate the amoeba's ability to evade the human immune system. This could explain why the parasite can stay hidden in the body for years at a time. Such information may help researchers find better means to harness the immune system to eradicate infection through vaccine development.
A number of the metabolic adaptations and stratagems identified from the E. histolytica genome also have commonalities with those reported in two other amitochondrial human pathogens of global importance: Trichomonas vaginalis and Giardia lamblia.
"The enzymes that form the basis of these shared metabolic strategies are substantially different from human enzymes, making them potential targets of inhibitors that could form the basis of new drug therapies," says TIGR President Claire M. Fraser, who supervised the Institute's role in the project.
E. histolytica is a voracious predator of bacteria and shares a close relationship in the human gut with its bacterial neighbors. Because the parasite uses the same methods to kill bacteria as it uses to damage human cells and cause disease, the level of certain bacteria in the colon can be an important determinant of the amoeba's virulence.
Biomedical scientists say the E. histolytica sequence will help researchers develop new tools to predict which of the millions of people who ingest amoeba cysts in contaminated fluids will actually develop the disease.
"Every aspect of research is changed by having the genome sequenced," says Dr. William A. Petri, Jr., a collaborator who is chief of the University of Virginia Health System's Division of Infectious Diseases. He says the DNA typing from t
Source:The Institute for Genomic Research