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Dr. Eleonora SchönherrPresse- & ÖffentlichkeitsarbeitPhone: +49 40 42818-264
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Dr. Jessica TiedkePresse- & ÖffentlichkeitsarbeitPhone: +49 40 42818-264
Mail: presse(at)bnitm.de

Protein with Unknown Function Makes Amoebae Aggressive

The parasite Entamoeba histolytica may survive in the human intestine for years without causing symptoms. For unknown reasons, the amoebae at some point start invading the intestinal wall and blood vessels causing bleeding ulcers and abscesses, respectively, if they end up in organs.

Comparison of gene expression in aggressive and harmless strains of amoebae (E. histolytica). Grey open circles near the diagonal indicate genes similarly expressed in both strains, whereas circles in red and blue mark genes showing substantial differences in expression. The gene of interest is highlighted with a bold red circle.
Comparison of gene expression in aggressive and harmless strains of amoebae (E. histolytica). Grey open circles near the diagonal indicate genes similarly expressed in both strains, whereas circles in red and blue mark genes showing substantial differences in expression. The gene of interest is highlighted with a bold red circle.

To better understand this process, we use several animal models and compare an E. histolytica clone that causes large abscesses with a clone shown to be much less virulent. We found many genes differently activated in aggressive and harmless amoebae. One of them, much stronger expressed in aggressive ones, codes for a protein with an unknown function. Thus, this protein appears to contribute to the ability of amoebae to cause abscesses and may be a new target for drug development.


Meyer M. et al., PloS Pathog 2016, 12:e1005853

Martin Meyer, Helena Fehling, Jenny Matthiesen, Stephan Lorenzen, Kathrin Schuldt, Hannah Bernin, Mareen Zaruba, Corinna Lender, Egbert Tannich, Hanna Lotter, Iris Bruchhaus and external cooperation partners (see publication)