Modulation of translation initiation in Leishmania major
Leishmania parasites, which cause human leishmaniasis, are transmitted to humans through the bite of infected sandflies. Parasites can cause disfiguration through chronic skin lesions and, in some cases, can disseminate to visceral organs and be lethal. Most of the expression of Leishmania gene products is regulated at the protein synthesis level, which is the focus of our studies. Our work has begun to reveal peculiarities of translation in this group of human parasites and indicate that translation factors are attractive targets for identifying small molecules inhibiting protein-protein interactions, specifically in parasites.
Understanding protein synthesis in Malaria
Young children are most vulnerable to severe infection by malaria parasites, and in 2016, 300,000 died on the African continent from malaria before their fifth birthday. Unfortunately, some of the current antimalarial lack pediatric formulations, and there is no vaccine available to prevent malaria. Antibiotics that specifically block protein synthesis have long been used to treat bacterial infections, and some have activity against translation in Plasmodium organelles. Our ultimate goal is to identify a novel family of antiparasitic agents that disrupt protein-protein interaction during protein synthesis in the parasites that could be deployed as part of the armamentarium against malaria.