A protein called cyclin aids malaria growth according to researchers with the University of Nottingham studying the infectious disease.
Cyclin is a protein which typically aids the process of cell division. While largely studied in plants and animals, the role of cyclin in parasite development hasn’t received as much attention until now. Thus, Professor Rita Tewari and Doctor Bill Wickstead, both with the School of Life Sciences at the University of Nottingham undertook the task to unravel the role of cyclin in malaria development.
Malaria is caused by a parasite and is a mosquito-borne disease. The majority of cases diagnosed with malaria are pinpointed to developing countries. According to global reports, approximately half a million people die yearly due to the blood-disease.
The research of Professor Tewari, Doctor Wickstead and Doctor Magali Roques has significant implications for further development of malaria treatments based on their findings. According to the research team, a protein called cyclin aids malaria growth and sheds light on the conditions needed for the malaria parasite to thrive both in the insect host and in its human host. The findings of the study are published in the PLOS Pathogens journal.
The study undertook by the University of Nottingham researchers is the first functional study taking a closer look at cyclin and the protein’s role in the cell division and growth of the malaria parasite. The malaria parasite needs two hosts to thrive. It is firstly carried by a mosquito which may infect a mammal.
In studying the life-cycle of the malaria parasite and its development, the research team discovered that there are three types of the cyclin molecule that enable the parasites growth and sustain it. The malaria parasite is known as Plasmodium.
Plasmodium doesn’t present typical cell cycles as it develops in either of the hosts. Against this background the research team was able to characterize the exact set of cyclins that trigger this atypical cell cycle. Doctor Wickstead characterized the set of cyclins as small and unusual in composition compared to what is known about cyclins in plants, humans or other organisms where it was studied.
As cell progression depends on cyclins and kinases, underlining the exact relation between Plasmodium and the cyclins set driving its development is key to further elaborating treatments which could eradicate the disease altogether.
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