Oct 2022

Bioscience Seminar

Sexual conversion in Plasmodium falciparum: the developmental decision that underlies malaria transmission

Professor Alfred Cortés
11 Oct, 2022
04:00 PM – 05:00 PM

All malaria clinical symptoms in humans are produced by repeated cycles of asexual parasite growth in the blood. However, transmission of the disease from one human to another via a mosquito vector requires that some of the asexual parasites convert into non-replicating sexual forms termed gametocytes, which are the only parasite stages able to infect mosquitoes. The success of malaria control and eradication efforts largely depends on the ability to stop transmission, which requires a better understanding of sexual conversion and gametocyte biology. How parasites "decide" at each cycle of asexual replication whether to continue growing asexually or to convert into gametocytes is not completely understood, but recent research has started to unravel the process at the molecular level. Here I will describe recent results from our research team on the mechanisms that regulate Plasmodium falciparum sexual conversion. Our investigations focus mainly on the epigenetic mechanisms that determine activation of the sexual conversion transcriptional cascade and on how sexual conversion rates are adjusted in response to the conditions of the environment. 

After obtaining a PhD for research on fruitfly DNA binding proteins (CID-CSIC, Barcelona), he started to study malaria parasites. He worked for four years as head of the Molecular Parasitology lab at the Papua New Guinea IMR, where his research focused on basic malaria parasite biology and also on epidemiological aspects of the disease. Back to Europe, he joined the MRC-NIMR (London) as a postdoc for two years and a half to study gene expression and invasion of erythrocytes by malaria parasites. In 2006 he moved to IRB Barcelona with an ICREA junior contract. In 2011 he joined CRESIB-ISGlobal (Barcelona) as a group leader, and in 2012 he was appointed ICREA Research Professor. His research at ISGlobal focuses on different aspects of the regulation of gene expression in malaria parasites, including epigenetic variation, the heat shock response and the transcriptional regulation of sexual conversion.

Event Quick Information

11 Oct, 2022
04:00 PM - 05:00 PM
Building 2 - Level 5 - Room 5220