Research highlight

Potential new anti-malarial target

Nature Communications

November 9, 2011

The malarial tyrosyl-tRNA synthetase protein binds and enters human macrophages and triggers an immune response reports a paper published in Nature Communications this week. These findings suggest that this protein could be a new target for combating malaria.

Ttyrosyl-tRNA synthetase is a housekeeping protein required for protein translation. Amit Sharma and colleagues now solve the structure of the Plasmodium falciparum enzyme and show that the protein contains a certain motif that can bind to macrophages. Once bound to macrophages the protein induces the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines which have an important role in the pathophysiology of malaria.

These findings suggest that tyrosyl-tRNA synthetase could be an important target for preventing parasite infection.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms1522

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