Kinase Family Tree 

Black and white image of enzymes visualised by computer analysis
Alex Lam, Balu Balan
Created | 2023

Kinases are ancient enzymes that act as ‘switches’ within living cells, regulating the roles of proteins in fundamental biological processes by adding phosphate groups, a process called phosphorylation.

PhD student Alex and postdoctoral researcher Balu collected data on numerous kinases from the single-celled parasite Giardia duodenalis – a leading cause of diarrhoeal illness around the world – and used computer analysis to draw the kinase ‘family tree’, revealing how these essential enzymes emerged in early lifeforms and have evolved over time. In this image, the dense, dark ‘branches’ show the kinases grouped by their similarities.

Their research provides new insights not only into potential treatments for Giardia infection but also into how kinases in human cells might be targeted in the treatment of cancer, inflammatory disorders and autoimmune diseases.

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