Research

Contact

Dr. Eleonora SchönherrPresse- & ÖffentlichkeitsarbeitPhone: +49 40 42818-269
Mail: presse(at)bnitm.de

Julia HäberleinPresse- & ÖffentlichkeitsarbeitPhone: +49 40 42818-264
Mail: presse(at)bnitm.de

Genetic Toolbox to Modify Proteins of Plasmodium Falciparum

Genetic modification of Plasmodium falciparum is still very tedious and time consuming as standard procedures to achieve integration of DNA into the parasites’ genomes are very inefficient. We have developed a new method, which allows manipulating the genes of P. falciparum like building blocks, to analyse the function of the en-coded proteins.  

Genetically modified Plasmodium falciparum in red blood cells (red-grey rings). Green areas mark Kelch13, the yellow dot shows Kelch13 at the parasite membrane.
Genetically modified Plasmodium falciparum in red blood cells (red-grey rings). Green areas mark Kelch13, the yellow dot shows Kelch13 at the parasite membrane.

For instance, we can easily filter out parasites, which have successfully integrated an artificial gene, shut off genes right away or on demand, park proteins in the nucleus as a kind of storeroom, etc. To demonstrate the advantages of the new method, we tested it successfully on a dozen genes. Among them, we analysed a particularly important gene encoding a protein (Kelch13) involved in resistance to the drug Artemisinine, the greatest upcoming challenge in malaria treatment worldwide.


Birnbaum J. et al., Nat Methods 2017, 14:450-456

Jakob Birnbaum, Sven Flemming, Nick Reichard, Alexandra Blancke Soares, Paolo Mesén-Ramírez, Ernst Jonscher, Bärbel Bergmann and Tobias Spielmann