Navigation Links
Researchers discover method to unravel malaria's genetic secrets

The parasite that causes malaria is a genetic outlier, which has prevented scientists from discovering the functions of most of its genes. Researchers at National Jewish Health and Yale University School of Medicine have devised a technique to overcome the genetic oddity of Plasmodium falciparum, the major cause of human malaria. This new approach led them discover a new gene involved in lipid synthesis, and opens the door to further genetic discovery for the entire organism. This should foster a much greater understanding of the parasite, and facilitate discovery of new medications for a disease that infects more than 200 million people and kills nearly 700,000 every year.

"The malarial genome has been a black box. Our technique allows us to open that box, so that we can learn what genes in the most lethal human parasite actually do," said Dennis Voelker, PhD, Professor of Medicine at National Jewish Health and senior author on the paper that appeared in the January 2, 2012 , issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. "This could prove tremendously valuable in the fight against a disease that has become increasingly drug-resistant."

The genome of P. falciparum was sequenced in 2002, but the actual functions of many of the organism's genes have remained elusive. One of the primary methods for discovering gene function is to copy a specific gene, insert it into a model organism that is easy to grow, often the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, then draw on the incredible knowledge base about yeast and its abundant genetic variants to discover how that inserted gene changes the organism's biology.

DNA is composed of building blocks with the shorthand designations A,T,C and G. The genome of P. falciparum is odd because it is particularly rich in A's and T's. Because of this A-T-rich nature, P. falciparum genes generally do not function when they are inserted into other organisms. As a result, scientists have been largely stymied when trying to understand the functions of P. falciparum's genes.

It turns out, however, that P. falciparum has a close cousin, P. knowlesi, which shares almost all its genes with P. falciparum, but with fewer A's and T's. As a result, P. knowlesi genes function well when inserted into yeast. Scientists can now insert P. knowlesi genes into yeast, discover their function, and then match them to corresponding genes in P. falciparum, which reveals the function of the malarial parasite's genes.

"This technique could lead to an explosion in knowledge about malaria and the parasite that causes it." said Dr. Voelker.

The researchers used the technique to discover a new gene involved in the synthesis of lipids in cell membranes of P. falciparum. The gene, phosphatidylserine decarboxylase, directs the formation of a protein unique to malarial parasites and is a potential therapeutic target. For example, selective disruption of lipid synthesis in P. falciparum, would prevent the organism from making new cell membranes, growing and reproducing in human hosts.


Contact: William Allstetter
National Jewish Health

Related medicine news :

1. Researchers map all the fragile sites of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiaes genome
2. UH Case Medical Center researchers publish promising findings for advanced cervical cancer
3. Researchers discover new way to kill pediatric brain tumors
4. Researchers Who Discovered First Genes for Stuttering will Present Findings to the National Stuttering Association
5. Researchers create drug to keep tumor growth switched off
6. Urine protein test might help diagnose kidney damage from lupus, UT Southwestern researchers find
7. GUMC researchers say flower power may reduce resistance to breast cancer drug tamoxifen
8. Clemson researchers develop hands-free texting application
9. Researchers find biomarkers in saliva for detection of early-stage pancreatic cancer
10. Researchers chart genomic map spanning over 2 dozen cancers
11. Researchers discover second protective role for tumor-suppressor
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... , ... There is only one major question facing all law firms in ... question has not been an easy question to answer. Especially when the senior partners ... workforce don’t share the same discipline around working long hours. , In addition ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... 27, 2015 , ... According to an article published November 13th ... in Washington D.C. revolved around the fact that proper dental care, both at-home and ... the link between periodontal disease (more commonly referred to as gum disease) and diabetes. ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... According to an ... the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia suggested that laws requiring ... injuries. The article explains that part of the reason for the controversial conclusion is ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... According to an article ... the way that they are handling security in light of the recent terrorist attacks ... in an attempt to stop an attack from reaching U.S. soil. Especially around special ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... ... care in America. As people age, more care is needed, especially with Alzheimer’s, ... and medical professionals are being overworked. The forgotten part of this equation: 80 ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/27/2015)... , Nov. 27, 2015 Research and ... the "Global Intrauterine Devices Market 2015-2019" report ... --> In this report, the author the ... devices market for 2015-2019. To calculate the market size, ... following type of products: Hormonal IUDs and copper IUDs. ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... 26, 2015 Un nuevo enfoque ... para el cáncer avanzado.   --> ... fotodinámica de Bremachlorin para el cáncer avanzado.   ... inmunoterapia con la terapia fotodinámica de Bremachlorin para el ... . --> Clinical Cancer Research . ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... Nederland, November 26, 2015 ... Een nieuwe aanpak combineert immunotherapie met Bremachlorin-photodynamische ... ) --> ...      (Photo: ) ... Universitair Medisch Centrum (LUMC) blijkt ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: