Maryse Lebrun, Research Director at Inserm, and her fellow researchers at the Laboratoire Dynamique des interactions membranaires normales et pathologiques (CNRS, France), have characterised a protein complex that allows the agents that cause malaria and toxoplasmosis to infect host cells. This is a highly original mechanism, since the parasite supplies both the receptor which it inserts into the host cell membrane and the ligand it exposes at its surface. The researchers have now shown the three-dimensional structure of this complex. The new data is published in Science on 22 July 2011. It paves the way for new drugs designed to inhibit the formation of the protein complex in question and block invasion by Plasmodium falciparum in red blood cells.
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"Host Cell Invasion by Apicomplexan Parasites: Insights from the Co-Structure of AMA1 with a RON2 Peptide" (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/333/6041/463)