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Andy Waters

Field of expertise:
Malaria parasite molecular cell biology and transmission

Current position: 
Professor & Director of Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology, University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Speaker bio: 
Professor Andy Waters is a Wellcome Principal Research Fellow and Director of the Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology (WTCMP) at the University of Glasgow.  He has 30 years of experience in malaria research, mainly spent working with the rodent malaria model, Plasmodium berghei.  He has played a central role in the development of genetic manipulation of malaria parasites and helped develop the initial systems for this purpose publishing over 150 original research articles.  The current research of the laboratory centres around a transcription factor (AP2-G) that is the master regulator for the production of transmission forms of malaria parasites.

Title of their presentation: 
The pluripotent malaria parasite: ready to go in any direction  

About the presentation:
The current research of the laboratory centres around a transcription factor (AP2-G) that until recently thought to be the master regulator for the production of transmission forms of malaria parasites.  The parasite population in an infection integrates environmental cues to determine the timing, extent and quality of commitment to transmission.  The vast majority of the processes employed by the parasite to achieve this control remain unknown and their full elucidation remain the goal of the laboratory.  We have uncovered one aspect of the control that lies upstream of the action of AP2-G.  This mechanism involves control of mRNA translation at the level of a subset of the asexual transcriptome.  A specific RNA binding protein is responsible for productive engagement of specific mRNA species that between them control the rate of progression through the blood stage asexual cycle as well as the ability to produce male or female transmission forms (gametocytes).  Point mutation analysis of the RNA protein implicates protein acetylation as a key post-translational regulatory of commitment to sexual development.  It is likely that this knowledge will provide significant insights into several pathological processes of both malaria and other parasite diseases.  

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