Project Title: Functional Characterization of Novel Microneme and Rhoptry Transporter Proteins inToxoplasma gondii
Andrew Lin is a fourth-year majoring in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics and minoring in Biomedical Research. He began as an undergraduate researcher with Dr. Bradley in the winter quarter of his freshman year. The Bradley lab studies the host-pathogen interactions of the apicomplexan parasite, Toxoplasma gondii. Andrew’s research focuses on novel proteins that localize to the microneme and rhoptry, two compartments involved in essential T. gondii invasion processes.
The Apicomplexa are a phylum of parasitic protozoa that includes Plasmodium falciparum, a parasite responsible for malaria, and Toxoplasma gondii, a widespread pathogen considered to be the leading cause of death attributed to foodborne illness. These parasites use a sophisticated strategy for infection, involving active invasion of their host cell, creation of a protective niche, and finally egress from the host cell. Effective apicomplexan invasion requires the polarized secretion of proteins from the micronemes, which are responsible for parasite attachment to the host cell. This is followed by secretion of proteins from the rhoptry, whose proteins are involved in both the hijacking of cellular machinery and the formation of a moving junction structure by which the parasite is able to pull itself into the host cell. While much is known about these released constituents of the microneme and rhoptry, very little is known about the transporter proteins in the delimiting membranes of these organelles. By studying these novel transporters, Andrew hopes to gain insight into the uncharacterized resident proteins of the microneme and rhoptry with the goal of ultimately contributing to the development of better therapies for these deadly parasites.
Andrew would like to thank Dr. Peter Bradley, all the members of the Bradley lab, and the URC-Sciences office for their assistance and guidance through his research, as well as for creating a great environment to develop as a scientist. Additionally, he would like to thank the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation for their generous support and this invaluable research opportunity.