AT THE MOLECUAR FRONTIERS OF CELL-CELL COMMUNICATION
Malaria, caused by Plasmodium falciparum, is the most devastating parasitic disease, killing up to a million people each year. The parasites transmission between humans via mosquitos involves a remarkable series of morphological transformations. We have obtained the first evidence that malaria parasites can communicate and transfer DNA-information between them using nanovesicles (exosomes). Exosomes are tiny secreted packages capable of delivering cargo of proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids and fuing with distal cells providing a secure and efficient mode for signal delivery.
Cell-cell communication is a critically important mechanism for information exchange for any living cells. However, this is a new area of malaria research and little is currently known about the precise mechanisms of malaria-derived exosome cargo delivery and function.
We anticipate that the approaches developed in our laboratory will not only yield significant information on one of the most lethal human pathogens, but will lead to further important advances in the field of exosome research. With malaria continuing to be a major global disease, advances toward understanding the basic biology of Plasmodium remain essential.
We believe that to fight malaria, we have to understand the basic biology of this deadly organism.