Plasmodium falciparum Binding Interactions in the Bone Marrow

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: College of Medical, Veterinary &Life Sci


Keywords: Plasmodium, malaria, bone marrow


Malaria is a fatal tropical disease caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Plasmodium. In the most recent World Malaria Report, the total number of malaria cases worldwide was estimated to be 219 million, with the majority of these cases caused by Plasmodium falciparum. An important virulence factor of P. falciparum is the ability to express variant antigens on the surface of the infected erythrocyte allowing parasites to sequester in deep tissues thereby avoiding splenic clearance. The bone marrow has recently been identified as a major reservoir of malaria parasites, both in the asexual and sexual stages of their life cycle. Importantly, this niche appears to be crucial for the development of transmission stages and could therefore have important implications in terms of future transmission blocking strategies. It is currently unknown whether P. falciparum can sequester in the bone marrow through similar receptor-ligand interactions as previously described or whether these interactions are bone marrow specific. This project will therefore investigate the ligands expressed by asexual P. falciparum in the bone marrow, and which bone marrow cell receptors they bind to, in order to sequester in the bone marrow niche.


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