Vital proteins for critical stage of malaria identified

January 16th, 2009 - 1:05 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Jan 16 (ANI): In a new study, scientists from the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute (JHMRI) have identified two proteins that play a vital role in a critical stage of malaria.

The scientists have identified the molecular components that enable the malaria-causing parasite Plasmodium to infect the salivary glands of the Anopheles mosquito, a critical stage for spreading malaria to humans.

They say that saglin, a mosquito salivary protein, is a receptor for the Plasmodium protein Thrombospondin-Related Anonymous Protein (TRAP).

The two proteins bind together to allow invasion of the salivary gland by Plasmodium sporozoites, which can be transmitted to a human when bitten by an infected mosquito.

The researchers led by Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena, PhD, conducted a series of experiments and found that saglin bound with the artificial peptide SM1.

The team later created an antibody to find a protein similar to SM1 that existed naturally in the parasite, which they identified as TRAP.

For proving the interaction between saglin and TRAP further, the team conducted experiments to down-regulate, or switch off, saglin expression, which greatly diminished salivary gland invasion in the mosquito.

“This work is the culmination of a decade-long research project in which peptide libraries were used to understand the mechanisms that the parasite uses to develop in its obligatory mosquito host. We are learning more and more about how the malaria parasite develops inside the mosquito, which could lead to novel approaches for disrupting its lifecycle and preventing the spread of malaria,” said Jacobs-Lorena.

The findings have been published in the open-access journal PLoS Pathogens. (ANI)

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