- World Malaria Day – A Single Protein Opens the Way for Drug Screening
Industry News: World Malaria Day – A Single Protein Opens the Way for Drug ScreeningA recent Nature paper revealed how the discovery of a novel protein, AP-2G, has opened the way for improvements in specific drug development to fight the deadly disease malaria. The AP-2G protein acts as a master switch that triggers the development of sexual forms of the malaria parasite, a stage essential for the spread of the disease.
Completion of sexual development is essential for Plasmodium malariae
parasites to be transmitted through mosquitoes. Sexual reproduction is a vulnerable stage of the parasite's complicated lifecycle. This stage can only occur in the gut of the mosquito after it has sucked the precursor parasite cells out of a person's blood. Until publication of this new research, the molecular mechanism of the commitment and completion of the parasite’s sexual development was unknown. The novel protein, PbAP2-G, a member of the apicomplexan AP2 (ApiAP2) family of DNA-binding proteins, is essential for the commitment of asexually replicating forms to sexual development.Preventing transmission
Data from this research suggests a positive feedback loop mechanism in gametocytogenesis in Plasmodium
. This mechanism is consistent with involvement of PbAP2-G and demonstrates that the mechanism could be exploited to prevent the transmission of this destructive parasite.
Researchers involved in this study, from the Welcome Trust Sanger Institute
, the University of Glasgow and Penn State University, believe that the discovery of PbAP2-G opens the way to the development of screens for effective drugs that could disable commitment to sexual development and prevent transmission.