Structural studies of invasion processes during malaria infection

Structural studies of invasion processes during malaria infection

Project details

Parasite invasion of erythrocytes is a pivotal process in the malaria lifecycle. The parasite relies on specific ligand-receptor interactions to identify and attach to host erythrocytes and activate invasion. The erythrocyte binding-like (EBL) family of proteins is important for the invasion process. Thus EBL proteins are potential malaria vaccine candidates. At present, little is known about the structures and mechanisms used by EBL proteins to mediate host cell attachment.

This project aims to characterise the structure of the Plasmodium falciparum EBL protein EBA175 bound to the erythrocyte receptor glycophorin A. 

Students will use tissue culture, protein purification techniques and electron cryomicrocopy (cryo-EM) to obtain structural insights into this critical aspect of malaria parasite invasion biology.

About our research group

Apicomplexan parasites are protozoan pathogens that cause major infectious diseases in humans. Notably, these include Plasmodium and Toxoplasma species that cause malaria and toxoplasmosis respectively. 

Our research group is interested in characterising the structures and mechanisms of ligand-receptor interactions that enable the malaria parasite to invade their host. We aspire to use this knowledge to design vaccines that could contribute to prevention of malaria.

The project supervisors have considerable expertise in relevant research techniques including parasite molecular genetics, protein purification techniques and electron cryomicroscopy (cryo-EM) for structure determination.




Wilson Wong in the lab
Infection and Immunity division
Dr Tony Hodder profile shot
Infection and Immunity division

Professor Alan Cowman

Alan Cowman standing in a laboratory
Deputy Director and Joint Division Head

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