Saturday, August 28, 2010

A good Apicomplexan

Malaria, Sea Grapes, and Kidney Stones: A Tale of Parasites Lost: If you’re looking for a gang of vicious killers, look no further than the Apicomplexans. These single-celled protozoans cause death and destruction across the animal kingdom. They infect everything from butterflies to people. Their diseases include Texas Cattle Fever, toxoplasmosis, and the scourge that makes Plasmodium the baddest Apicomplexan of them all, malaria. [...] Yet in the midst of this brutal dynasty, scientists have now discovered a peacemaker. For the first time, they’ve found an apicomplexan that bestows a biochemical gift to its host essential for survival.

I heard so much about the genomic, structural, and lifecycle subtleties of Apicomplexans from my friend David Roos and members of his lab that I shouldn't be surprised, but this discovery shows that these wily parasites are even more adaptable than the horror stories of malaria and toxoplasmosis mutation and drug resistance suggest. Very cool.

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