Sneaky genes

Published: Tuesday 31 October 1995

Three independent US resm teams trying to uncover the strau adopted by the malaria parasite sneak past the immune defenses the host, have converged on I same group of genes.

Russell Howard, Santa Ch biotech company and Louis Mil and Thomas Wellems, National institute of Allergy and Infectiv Diseases, showed that Plasmadh jalciparum parasite, avoids det tion by switching between I genes, each encoding different version of EMP-1 (Erythrocyte me brane protein). Surface location of EMP-I on the infected blood cells signals the parasite's presence to the immune system; thus synthesizing new proteinvarients helps the parasite to avoid detection.

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