Cell biologist to start work on structure of malaria parasite genome

The University of California at Riverside announced on Thursday that it received a four-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the 3-D structure of the malaria parasite.

UC Riverside and the University of Washington received the more than $2 million grant to discover the Plasmodium parasite's structure during its erythrocytic cycle. The erythrocytic cycle, a 48-hour cycle that can repeat for days or weeks, is when the parasite causes disease in humans.

Karine Le Roch, an associate professor of cell biology and neuroscience at UC Riverside, and her associates will work closely with the lab of William Noble, a genome sciences professor at the University of Washington.

Approximately $1 million of the total grant funding will be allocated to UC Riverside.

"There are a few publications on the 3-D structure of the yeast and human genomes under particular conditions, but no one has so far analyzed the 3-D structure of a genome's organism during its cell cycle progression," Le Roch said.

The researchers will use 3-D structure data from their work in combination with novel genome-wide data sets to develop a computational 3-D model. The researchers anticipate the resulting data will yield insights into how the parasites regulate their genes.

"Rational drug design requires a detailed understanding of the molecular basis of disease," Le Roch said. "By providing fundamental insight into the regulatory mechanisms of Plasmodium, this project will improve our ability to design new drugs and novel lines of defense against malaria."

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National Institutes of Health

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