- Reader in Cell Biology (Parasitology)
Current research :
Systematic analysis of essential parasite genes linked to invasion of the host cell in Toxoplasma gondii
Like all apicomplexan parasites, Toxoplasma gondii exhibits a complex life cycle, involving transmission and differentiation within and between different hosts. The accessibility of T.gondii as an experimental system allows this parasite to be used as a superior model organism for many questions that cannot be easily addressed in other Apicomplexans. The asexual life cycle closely resembles the life cycle of Plasmodium blood stages and many factors involved in different processes, especially the factors involved in host cell invasion and regulation of intracellular development can be efficiently studied in T.gondii.
Our research focuses on the mechanisms involved in invasion and modulation of the host cell, focusing on the characterisation of essential genes of interest (GOIs) that are believed to play a role in these processes. Since the whole machinery required for host cell invasion is linked to the secretory pathway of the parasite we are especially interested in defining the transport routes of essential invasion factors and to define the vesicular trafficking systems involved.
In order to actively invade the host cell, these parasites employ their own actin-myosin-system and we aim to dissect the individual components of this complex motor to analyse their function during gliding motility and/or host cell invasion. In order to characterise these essential components our group developed cutting edge genetic technologies in apicomplexan parasites and we aim to implement them in a high-throughput-approach that will hopefully allow us to analyse the whole phenome of these important pathogens.