Structural Parasitology

Structural parasitology is the study of the structures of proteins for interesting parasites. It applies the techniques of structural biology (such as X-ray crystallography or NMR) to determine the 3-D structures of protein molecules involved in a parasitic relationship. One goal is to distinguish the workings of functional pathways in these organisms in comparison to humans. More importantly, it is hoped that structures of parasite proteins will lead to faster discovery of drugs for diseases neglected by pharmaceutical companies.

This is a challenging field because parasite proteins are often more difficult to express using a heterologous system. The challenge is particularly great for proteins from eukaryotic parasites. Once expressed, many parasitic proteins are also resistant to crystallization because they contain inserts which are not commonly found in human or prokaryotic proteins.

Parasites of interest include Plasmodium, Trypanosoma, Leishmania, Giardia, Entamoeba, Cryptosporidium, Helminth and Toxoplasma, most of which are agents for Neglected Diseases.

Many academic labs around the world study structural parasitology. Two groups in particular have contributed many parasite structures: the SGPP (Structural Genomnics of Pathogenic Protozoa) and the SGC (Structural Genomics Consortium).

Famous quotes containing the word structural:

    The reader uses his eyes as well as or instead of his ears and is in every way encouraged to take a more abstract view of the language he sees. The written or printed sentence lends itself to structural analysis as the spoken does not because the reader’s eye can play back and forth over the words, giving him time to divide the sentence into visually appreciated parts and to reflect on the grammatical function.
    J. David Bolter (b. 1951)