Navigation Links
Newly discovered protein an important tool for sleeping sickness research

Sixty million people in 36 countries of sub-Saharan Africa are threatened daily by a deadly parasitic disease known as African sleeping sickness. The disease is caused by organisms called trypanosomes, which are spread by the tsetse fly. African sleeping sickness affects approximately 500,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa, a quarter of whom will die this year. Because the trypanosome has an exceptional genetic strategy for evading the human immune system and resisting treatment, the current treatment for this disease is melarsopal, an antiquated drug with terrible side effects, including death.

In the February issue (Volume 17, Issue 3) of the journal Molecular Cell, scientists in the Marine Biological Laboratory's (MBL's) Josephine Bay Paul Center for Comparative Molecular Biology and Evolution report their discovery of a protein called JBP2, which will help them test their hypothesis that a uniquely modified DNA base called base J is a key component of the trypanosome's mechanism for evading the immune system. If the hypothesis is correct, it will bring scientists closer to developing a more effective drug for treating African sleeping sickness.

The trypanosome evades the human immune system because it is coated with a surface antigen called variant surface glycoprotein (VSG). The human body makes antibodies for VSG, but trypanosomes randomly switch to another antigen when the organisms divide and reproduce. Trypanosomes whose VSG has switched evade the antibodies the human immune system made to fight the original antigen, thus assuring the long-term survival of these parasites within their hosts. The trypanosome has approximately 1,000 different VSG genes, but only expresses one at a time while the others are somehow silenced. This genetic trick, called antigenic variation, has severely limited sleeping sickness treatment options and essentially ruled out the possibility of a vaccine.

MBL trypanosome experts in Robert Sabatini's lab hypothes ize that base J (beta-D-glucosylhydroxymethyluracil) may play an important role in the gene silencing process behind antigenic variation. With the goal of learning how the organism regulates the process of antigenic variation, the scientists have been trying to understand how the trypanosome makes base J.

The discovery of JBP2, a member of a protein family that helps control DNA-related functions, is a significant breakthrough in this quest because Sabatini and his colleagues were able to demonstrate that the protein is the key regulator of base J synthesis. This will provide the scientists a new tool to elucidate the biological function of this unique modified DNA base in the regulation of antigenic variation.

If base J does indeed play a role in the gene silencing that enables the trypanosome to change its antigen coating, the discovery of JBP2 may one day enable scientists to create a drug that prevents the manufacture of base J, affecting the trypanosome's ability to vary its antigenic coating, and therefore allowing the human immune system to kill it.

Understanding trypanosomes at the molecular level is key to fighting African sleeping sickness and diseases caused by similar parasites.


Source:Marine Biological Laboratory

Related biology news :

1. Newly-discovered class of genes determines ?and restricts ?stem cell fate
2. Newly discovered virus linked to childhood lung disorders and Kawasaki disease
3. Newly Discovered Compound Blocks Known Cancer-Causing Protein
4. Newly discovered pathway might help in design of cancer drugs
5. Newly Discovered Branding Process Helps Immune System Cells Pick Their Fights
6. Newly discovered genetic disease sheds light on bodys water balance
7. Newly Discovered Role for Heart Response Enzyme May Yield Better Heart Failure Therapy
8. Newly recognized gene mutation may reduce seeds, resurrect plants
9. Newly discovered birdlike dinosaur is oldest raptor ever found in South America
10. Fitting in: Newly evolved genes adopt a variety of strategies to remain in the gene pool
11. Newly identified mechanism helps explain why people of African descent are more vulnerable to TB
Post Your Comments:

(Date:6/14/2017)... , June 15, 2017  IBM (NYSE: IBM ) ... international tech event dedicated to developing collaboration between startups and ... on June 15-17. During the event, nine startups will showcase ... value in various industries. France ... the international market, with a 30 percent increase in the ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... May 16, 2017   Bridge Patient Portal ... and MD EMR Systems , an electronic ... for GE, have established a partnership to build ... and the GE Centricity™ products, including Centricity Practice ... These new integrations will allow healthcare ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... York , April 19, 2017 ... as its vendor landscape is marked by the presence ... market is however held by five major players - ... Together these companies accounted for nearly 61% of the ... the leading companies in the global military biometrics market ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. , Oct. 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... London (ICR) and University of ... tool to risk-stratify patients with multiple myeloma (MM), in a ... . The University of Leeds is ... Myeloma UK, and ICR will perform the testing services to ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... pharmaceutical company advancing targeted antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) therapeutics, today confirmed licensing rights ... (Hybrid Polymerized Liposomal Nanoparticle), a technology developed in collaboration with Children’s Hospital ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... USDM Life Sciences ... the life sciences and healthcare industries, announces a presentation by Subbu Viswanathan and ... presentation, “Automating GxP Validation for Agile Cloud Platforms,” will present a revolutionary approach ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... ... of medical marijuana products targeting the needs of consumers who are incorporating medical ... takes place in Phoenix, Arizona. , As operators of two successful Valley dispensaries, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: