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Tripping Up Chagas

Chagas disease trypanosome parasite induces changes in host cell proteins that are potential treatment or infection prevention targets

05 April 2022

Tripping Up Chagas

Chagas disease is a global health threat and neglected tropical disease. It’s a tropical parasite spread mostly by insects, and the molecular mechanisms by which the parasite infects human cells are poorly understood. Researchers probing this damaging infection examined thrombospondin-1 (TSP1), a protein in our cells that mediates cell-to-cell interactions and plays a role in many essential functions. They found that cells lacking this key protein (right, compared to normal cells, left) resisted infection by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi (green). The team revealed that the parasite activates the β-catenin signalling pathway, a molecular sequence of events crucial in species across the animal kingdom for everything from cell growth to movement. Their results suggest that during early infection, TSP1 enables some of this activity, and that overall the β-catenin pathway is a potential target for treatments or prevention tactics.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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