The Cytoskeleton of Protozoan Parasites

We focus here on understanding the protein components, complexes and organisation of the microtubule cytoskeleton. In particular, we use advanced proteomics approaches to define components and integrate this with RNAi studies of protein function.

The Flagellum and Flagellum Attachment Zone

The Trypanosoma brucei cell is characterised by a flagellum attached along most of the cell body by a Flagellum Attachment Zone (FAZ). We have defined many hundreds of proteins in these structures via mass spec. proteomics and are studying their localisation and function. The studies are always integrated with electron microscopy of the flagellum and FAZ.

Cytokinesis and Cell Differentiation

The cytoskeleton of trypanosomes and Leishmania remains intact throughout the cell cycle, yet has to be duplicated and segregated to daughter cells. We are studying the process of cytokinesis at both the molecular and cellular levels in both Leishmania and trypanosomes

Membrane Proteins and Cell Surface Domains

The trypanosome and Leishmania exhibit specific domains on their cell surfaces, notably the flagellar, flagellar pocket and cell body domains. We are studying how surface receptors, such as the PAD proteins, are localised to and act in particular surface domains. This membrane architecture is undoubtably influenced by the underlying cytoskeleton.

Nucleus and Spindle

We study how nuclear architecture varies between life cycle forms and how chromosomes are segregated on the mitotic spindle. We have a particular interest in the kinetochore components structure and function.

Leishmania Gene Expression, Differentiation and Pathogenicity

We are studying how Leishmania parasites invade macrophages, differentiate and proliferate. We are using deep sequencing to study differences in gene expression on invasion.

Differentiation and Mating in Trypanosoma brucei

A meiotic cycle exists in the tsetse fly stage of the T. brucei life cycle. We are studying a number of proteins important for gamete fusion to understand the molecular cell biology of this process.

Electron Microscopy of Cell Morphogenesis and Cytokinesis in Trypanosomes and Leishmania sp.

We are using a range of Electron Microscopy techniques (Transmission Electron Microscopy, Scanning Electron Microscopy, Electron Microscopy Tomography, Negative Staining, Freeze Fracture and High Pressure Freezing....), to study the basic cell ultrastructure of the parasites.

By Richard Wheeler, 2011
Header image: Dividing promastigote form Leishmania mexicana, taken by Richard Wheeler.