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NIH Grant to Study the Cell Biology of Toxoplasma gondii

biology news

The "Cytoskeleton Scaffold Assembly in Toxoplasma gondii" project of Biology Assist. Prof. M.-J. Gubbels was awarded a $1.4 million, four year grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Various fluorescent reporters visualize different components of the cytoskeleton construction of parasites. Images courtesy of Dr. M.-J. Gubbels.

Gubbels' lab will use the grant to study the process of cell division in the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Disease caused by this parasite is inherently linked to fast replication cycles. Therefore, a better understanding of that process will provide a rational basis for development of new therapeutics. The parasite produces two daughters per division round through a unique internal budding process, assembling two daughters within the mother. The highly dynamic cytoskeleton provides the physical infrastructure for cell division, wherein a protein family of intermediate filaments is starring. To date the lab identified sixteen genes and under this award they will assess how they are put together into the cytoskeleton scaffold to construct a daughter parasite. Furthermore, additional molecular players and their role in the division process will be identified.


 The Biology Department, posted on July 17, 2009.