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Unraveling Hemozoin Crystal Movement in Malaria Parasites

Semester: Summer 2023

Presentation description

Malaria is a deadly disease caused by a pathogenic parasite, Plasmodium, which has caused over half a million deaths in 2020 with no broadly effective vaccine available (WHO 2021). Plasmodium falciparum is the most common and most virulent species of the parasite. Due to parasite complexity and biological threats, the deadly disease remains a major threat within communities. A fundamental component of Plasmodium falciparum anatomy and survival during the blood-stage development is hemoglobin digestion and the mitigation of cytotoxic heme. Hemozoin is a crystal-like structure produced when heme, a damaging molecule to the parasite when in a human red blood cell, is detoxified during hemoglobin digestion in the food vacuole. Lipocalin-like proteins have been shown to control heme crystallization, however, it is unknown if this protein controls crystallization in human and mouse parasites. It is also unknown if other species of parasites apart from Plasmodium falciparum have visible moving hemozion and the importance of this movement for parasite survival. Using fluorescent molecular dyes and live-cell microscopy, I will be studying the relationship of moving hemozoin to intact organelles, including a polarized mitochondria and a fully enclosed food vacuole. Also, using CRISPR-Cas9 technology to disrupt the lipocalin gene, I plan to study the relationship between the lipocalin PV5 gene and the movement of hemozoin in parasites. Studying this phenomenon could be a building block for understanding the pathology of this parasite, produce a possible drug target and eventually, lead to a decrease in Malaria-related deaths.

Presenter Name: Raissa Kodia-Batamio
Presentation Type: Poster
Presentation Format: In Person
Presentation #85
College: Science
School / Department: Chemistry
Research Mentor: Paul Sigala
Date | Time: Thursday, Aug 3rd | 9:00 AM