Purifying parasites with light

September 12, 2008

Researchers have developed a clever method to purify parasitic organisms from their host cells, which will allow for more detailed proteomic studies and a deeper insight into the biology of organisms that cause millions of cases of disease each year.

Many infectious pathogens, like those that cause Toxoplasmosis or Leishmaniases, have a complex life cycle alternating between free-living creature and cell-enclosed parasite. A thorough analysis of the proteins that help these organisms undergo this lifestyle change would be tremendously useful for drug or vaccine development; however, it's extremely difficult to separate the parasites from their host cell for detailed study.

Electron micrographs (left=low, right=high magnification) highlighting the purification of Leishmania parasites (dark shapes) from their host cells. Credit: MCP

As reported in the September Molecular & Cellular Proteomics, Toni Aebischer and colleagues worked around this problem by designing special fluorescent Leishmania mexicana (one of the many Leishmaniases parasites). They then passed infected cells through a machine that can separate cell components based on how much they glow. Using this approach, the researchers separated the Leishmania parasites with only about 2% contamination, far better than current methods.

They then successfully identified 509 proteins in the parasites, 34 of which were more prominent in parasites than free –living Leishmania. The results yielded many characteristics of these organisms, such as a high presence of fatty acid degrading enzymes, which highlights adaptation to intracellularly available energy sources. The identified proteins should provide a good data set for continued selection of drug targets, and the success of this method should make it a good resource for other cellular parasites like malaria.

Citation: "Transgenic, Fluorescent Leishmania mexicana Allow Direct Analysis of the Proteome of Intracellular Amastigotes" by Daniel Paape, Christoph Lippuner, Monika Schmid, Renate Ackermann, Martin E. Barrios-Llerena, Ursula Zimny-Arndt, Volker Brinkmann, Benjamin Arndt, Klaus Peter Pleissner, Peter R. Jungblut, and Toni Aebischer

Article URL: www.mcponline.org/cgi/content/full/7/9/1688

Source: American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Explore further: Research identifies potential targets for treatment of leishmaniasis

Related Stories

How the leishmania parasite sabotages the immune response

October 12, 2016

An international collaborative of researchers has identified a mechanism that allows the leishmania parasite, which causes leishmaniasis, to evade the immune system and thereby produce infection. The study, published in Immunity, ...

On the track of the deadly parasite Leishmania

May 14, 2014

Leishmaniasis is one of the most underreported and insufficiently monitored diseases in the world. According to the WHO more than 300.000 people are infected annually with the most severe form of this disease - kala-azar. ...

Do our medicines boost pathogens?

December 21, 2011

Scientists of the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITG) discovered a parasite that not only had developed resistance against a common medicine, but at the same time had become better in withstanding the human immune system. ...

Recommended for you

Spider-web 'labyrinths' may help reduce noise pollution

October 17, 2017

(Phys.org)—Researchers have demonstrated that the geometry of a natural spider web can be used to design new structures that address one of the biggest challenges in sound control: reducing low-frequency noise, which is ...

Tiny protein coiled coils that self-assemble into cages

October 17, 2017

(Phys.org)—A large team of researchers with members from Slovenia, the U.K, Serbia, France and Spain has developed a technique that causes proteins to self-assemble into geometric shapes on demand. In their paper published ...

Webcam on Mars Express surveys high-altitude clouds

October 17, 2017

An unprecedented catalogue of more than 21 000 images taken by a webcam on ESA's Mars Express is proving its worth as a science instrument, providing a global survey of unusual high-altitude cloud features on the Red Planet.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.