The research, published in the September 30 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, focuses specifically on human innate immunity to Trypanosoma brucei brucei, the parasite that gives African cattle the deadly disease called Nagana, but which doesn't harm humans even though scientists believe they are exposed to it. The parasite is a close relative of Trypanosoma brucei gambienese and Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense, the organisms that cause African sleeping sickness in humans.
The findings that two proteins work synergistically to kill the Nagana parasite in humans contradict a long-held hypothesis that a single protein was the key to HDL's parasite-fighting power. "The research may be helpful to veterinarians hoping to develop treatments to aid African cattle farmers, who lose three million cattle and around a billion US dollars annually to Nagana," says April Shiflett, a scientist in the MBL's Global Infectious Diseases Program and an author on the paper. Scientists also hope the research will provide key information to investigators seeking treatments for certain parasitic infections, such as malaria.
To identify the proteins--known as apolipoprotein L-1 (apo L-1) and haptoglobin-related protein (Hpr)--MBL scientists tested different amounts and combinations of the proteins on Trypanosoma brucei brucei specimens. To survive the parasite needs to digest the lipids in HDLs. Because HDL carries these proteins and enables them to combine, it is nature's perfect delivery system for the an
Contact: Gina Hebert
Marine Biological Laboratory