Structural and functional analysis of malaria invasion

Structural and functional analysis of malaria invasion

Project details

Malaria is a major disease killing more than 500,000 people yearly. Our work aims to understand the malaria parasite and how it infects humans. We use this information to identify and develop vaccine targets.

This parasite invades erythrocytes by using ligand-receptor interactions to attach and activate invasion. This project aims to understand the function of these ligand interactions by identifying receptors on the erythrocyte.

This project will determine the function of ligand-receptor interactions using gene knockout and fluorescent protein tagged lines. Students will use parasite culturing, protein purification, construction of parasites using CRISPR technology, super resolution and cryo-electron microcopy to provide functional and structural insights in malaria parasite invasion.

About our research group

We are interested in identifying and characterising the function and structure of ligand-receptor interactions and using this knowledge to develop novel drug targets and vaccine candidates to target the malaria parasite.

We use CRISPR genome editing technology for efficient and specific parasite molecular genetics to make parasite lines with gene knockouts and also florescent protein tags. We perform experiments to define the loss-of-function phenotypes as well as live imaging and super-resolution microscopy to define the function of these proteins. Additionally, we express the parasite proteins in insect and E. coli cells to enable biochemical characterisation and structural analysis.

Our laboratory is made up of a mixture of postdoctoral fellows and PhD students providing opportunities for close supervision and assistance as well as working in a team environment.

Further reading: Cowman and Crabb, Cell 2006 124 :755, Volz et al., Cell Host Microbe 2016 20: 60


Professor Alan Cowman

Alan Cowman standing in a laboratory
Deputy Director and Joint Division Head
Wilson Wong in the lab
Infection and Immunity division
Dr Tony Hodder profile shot
Infection and Immunity division

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