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Scientists sequence genome of parasite responsible for common sexually transmitted infection

e evolved over time, previously inhabiting the intestine and later moving to the urogenital tract, which resulted in increased cell size and, subsequently, a considerably expanded genome.

The researchers also discovered more than 150 instances where bacterial genes may have transferred into the parasite's genome, suggesting that bacteria may have influenced the development of the parasite's metabolism. The decoded genome also revealed 800 genes for surface proteins that likely enable T. vaginalis to adhere to cells in the urinary and genital tracts and cause infection. Additionally, the researchers were able to analyze proteins thought to be linked to the parasite's hydrogenosome--its energy source and the target of the two drugs approved to treat trichomoniasis--and identified possible ways the parasite may become resistant to these medications. Understanding how T. vaginalis causes infection and developing methods to prevent it could also help curb the transmission of other STIs often found in connection with trichomoniasis, including chlamydia and gonorrhea, according to the researchers.

"Although trichomoniasis is very prevalent as a sexually transmitted infection, it has not received the attention given to other STIs," says Carlton. "Women are the population most affected by it, yet routine gynecological check-ups do not test for this particular infection, and it's not an STI that generally requires public health notification under state statutes. By better understanding the parasite's genetic structure, we hope to better understand how best to prevent and/or treat the infection it causes."
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Source:NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases


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