Structure and biology of proteins essential for Toxoplasma parasite invasion

Structure and biology of proteins essential for Toxoplasma parasite invasion

Project details

How pathogens enter host cells is a fascinating biological problem – an understanding of which can yield insight into the design of vaccines and new drugs. At the molecular interface this involves interactions between pathogen proteins and cognate receptors of the host cell. We are interested in understanding this molecular interaction in apicomplexan parasites that cause malaria and toxoplasmosis.

This project will utilise the experimental tractability of Toxoplasma and structural biology techniques to understand the AMA1-RON complex.  Students will make transgenic parasite incorporating tags that can be used to purify the complex and perform CryoEM to solve the structure of this complex.

This exciting project will elucidate atomic detail of how apicomplexan parasites invade host cells which will provide insights to design strategies to block invasion.

About our research group

My research group is interested in understanding the mechanistic details of host cell invasion in apicomplexan parasites such as those that cause malaria and toxoplasmosis. Specific interests are focused on parasite-host ligand-receptor interactions that enable these parasites to enter their host cells. We use structural biology technique including the latest advances in cryo-electron microscopy to visualise the atomic details of the many key aspects of parasite-host interactions (Wong et al, Nature 2019 565 (7737):118).

Together with collaborative efforts with the Tonkin laboratory in the Infectious Diseases and Immune Defense Division, who are experts in functional parasite biology, our goal is to obtain in-depth understanding on the invasion process that will lay the foundation for developing therapeutic strategies to intervene diseases cause by apicomplexan parasites.


Email supervisors



Wilson Wong in the lab
Infectious Diseases and Immune Defence division

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