Host-parasite interactions during host switching
May 2018, Nick Proellochs joined the lab on a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship to study the role of the differentially expanded PHIST protein family in host cell remodeling, particularly during gametocyte maturation. In collaboration with Prof. Hans-Peter Beck (Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switserland), we are characterizing the role of one such protein (PfGEXP02) that targets the host cytoskeleton during sexual development on mosquito colonization. In order to facilitate the analysis of the entire family while measuring rheological properties of the infected red blood cell more accurately, we work together with Prof. Wilhelm Huck (Dep. Physical-Organic Chemistry, Radboud University, Nijmegen, NL) to set up novel microfluidics-based techniques. Eventually, we hope to use this approach to test compounds interfering with adhesion of parasite-infected red blood cells, thus potentially preventing severe malaria outcomes. We’re also characterizing the role of the single PHIST protein that is abundantly expressed during liver-stage development.
(Image: high-resolution structured illumination fluorescence microscopy pictures with the lysine-rich membrane-associated PHISTb (LyMP)in green associating with the red blood cell cytoskeleton. Adapted from Proellocks et al. FASEB J. 2014.)