Seminar by Joe D Smith (Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, WA, USA) – University of Copenhagen

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Seminar by Joe D Smith (Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, WA, USA)

Joseph SmithPlasmodium falciparum malaria and variable antigens

Lecture by Dr. Joseph D. Smith, Research Associate Professor, Department of Global Health at University of Washington


Cytoadhesion of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes is a major virulence determinant associated with placental malaria and cerebral malaria. Parasite binding is mediated by the large and diverse var gene or P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) family. The Smith lab studies the PfEMP1 family to understand whether the pattern of infected erythrocyte binding is predictable and if specific PfEMP1 proteins are involved in disease. To address these questions, we have developed higher throughput binding assays that permit repertoire-wide analysis of the protein family and we interact with computational biologists to discern binding algorithms and patterns of gene recombination. Studies of malaria during pregnancy have revealed that a single member of the var gene family, VAR2CSA, is responsible for IE binding in the placenta. Our recent studies suggest that specific types of var genes are associated with cerebral binding and suggest a molecular basis for the preferential recruitment of infected erythrocytes to brain endothelium.

Time and place:

CSS (Kommunehospitalet), Building 2.0.63