Researchers identify protein responsible for malaria transmission
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Two groups of researchers have independently identified the the protein responsible fortransmission to in studies published in journal on Sunday.
The scientists found a direct relationship between the protein AP2-G's with malaria(male and female sexual forms) production, which is necessary for the transmission. Only the sexual forms infect mosquitoes and sexual reproduction occurs within the mosquito digestive tract.
Malaria is caused by US, examined , which is responsible for the worst form of human malarial infections; the other, led by UK scientists Oliver Billker from the in England and Andy Waters from in Scotland, looked at , which infects rodents.parasites. The initially separate teams looked at different plasmodium species. One, an international group led by Manuel Llinás of in the
The P. falciparum group was kickstarted by research in Spain which found different organisms from the same with identical had varying levels of AP2-G, with a strong to their levels of sexual activity. The more AP2-G, the higher the rate of gametocyte formation. Researchers in England, later also drawn into the international team, analyzed the of two mutated strains of P. falciparum which were both unable to form gametocytes. They found that the gene responsible for producing the AP2-G protein was the only common non-functioning gene.
The international team found found the AP2-G protein catalyzes the transmission by activating a relevant gene set in the parasite.
Both teams confirmed the finding by— both by adding the gene into a mutated strain and observing its ability to form gametocytes, and the other way round.
The parasites exist in a mosquito, then in a human, and require subsequent transmission for the parasite to spread. The transmission can only happen through gametocytes. The parasite triggers formation of the sexual gametocytes into the human's circulatory system every two days in small quantities — not wasting energy on the process at the dry time of year when few mosquitoes are available — but little was known about the mechanism.
Dr. Oliver Billker commented on the potential of getting the transmission of malaria under control, unlike the existing focus on addressing the phrase causing the clinical symptoms, "Current drugs treat patients by killing the sexless form of the parasite in their blood — this is the detrimental stage of the malaria lifecycle that causes illness. However, it is now widely accepted that to eliminate malaria from an entire region, it will be equally important to kill the sexual forms that transmit the disease."
The researchers hope to continue research toward drugs to prevent the transmission of the disease. The science was funded by groups including U.S. National Institutes of Health, and the European Commission., the government, the
- "Breakthrough in malaria research claimed" — , February 25, 2014
- Barbara K. Kennedy. "A key protein is discovered as essential for malaria parasite transmission to mosquitos" — , February 23, 2014
- Billker, Waters, et al. "A cascade of DNA-binding proteins for sexual commitment and development in Plasmodium" — , February 23, 2014
- Llinás et al. "A transcriptional switch underlies commitment to sexual development in malaria parasites" — , February 23, 2014