The importance of glycosylation in malaria infection of the mosquito and human host

The importance of glycosylation in malaria infection of the mosquito and human host

Project details

Malaria is a deadly disease that is spread by mosquitoes. Parasites injected by mosquitoes into humans infect the liver before red blood cells yet we understand little about this process (Boddey and Cowman, Annual Review of Microbiology 201367: 243-269). 

This project will use the Institute’s insectary to study the role of a new class of malarial enzymes that install post-translational modifications onto parasite virulence proteins. These modifications appear to be essential for the parasite to infect mosquitoes and the human host effectively. 

This project will involve modifying the malaria genome to create mutant parasites, measuring infection of mosquito midguts by mutant ookinetes, measuring infection of human liver cells by mutant sporozoites, localising virulence proteins in mutants by super resolution microscopy and characterising the enzymes biochemically.  


About our research group

Our laboratory is interested in understanding the molecular basis of how malaria parasites infect mosquitoes as this allows the widespread transmission of this devastating disease. We are also interested in understanding how parasites injected by mosquitoes infect the human liver. 

Previous studies have proven that genetically weakened liver-stage parasites are destroyed by the immune system. This provides protective immunity and therefore could deliver the first malaria vaccine. The mosquito and liver stages of malaria therefore provide exciting opportunities to block the spread of malaria and to develop an urgently needed vaccine for this disease.


Malaria lifecycle diagram
Within the human host, the malaria life cycle involves stages in both the liver and the blood.



Dr Justin Boddey

Dr Justin Boddey in the lab
Laboratory Head

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