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Protein helps parasite survive in host cells
Date:12/28/2010

of host proteins known as immunity-related GTPases. Tests in cell cultures and animal models showed that this binding leads to a reaction that disables the GTPases, which normally would rupture the parasite's protective membrane.

"With one exception, humans don't have the same family of immunity-related GTPases," Fentress notes. "But we do have a similar group of immune recognition proteins called guanylate-binding proteins, and we are currently testing to see if ROP18 deactivates these proteins in human cells in a similar manner."

The findings could be applicable to other parasites and pathogens. Toxoplasmosis belongs to a family of parasites that includes the parasite Plasmodium, which causes malaria. All surround themselves with protective membranes when they enter host cells.

"Plasmodium doesn't make ROP18, but it does secrete related proteins called FIKK," says Fentress. "It's possible they also act to thwart host defense mechanisms like GTPases and guanylate-binding proteins."


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Contact: Michael C. Purdy
purdym@wustl.edu
314-286-0122
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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