Chagas disease trypanosome parasite induces changes in host cell proteins that are potential treatment or infection prevention targets
Chagas disease is a global health threat and neglected tropical disease. It’s a tropical parasite spread mostly by insects, and the molecular mechanisms by which the parasite infects human cells are poorly understood. Researchers probing this damaging infection examined thrombospondin-1 (TSP1), a protein in our cells that mediates cell-to-cell interactions and plays a role in many essential functions. They found that cells lacking this key protein (right, compared to normal cells, left) resisted infection by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi (green). The team revealed that the parasite activates the β-catenin signalling pathway, a molecular sequence of events crucial in species across the animal kingdom for everything from cell growth to movement. Their results suggest that during early infection, TSP1 enables some of this activity, and that overall the β-catenin pathway is a potential target for treatments or prevention tactics.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.