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PLoS Pathogens at the 2011 Molecular Parasitology Meeting

PLoS Pathogens was well represented at the 2011 Annual Molecular Parasitology Meeting held from September 11-15th at Woods Hole, MA. The meeting covers all aspects of parasite molecular biology, cell biology, biochemistry, genetics and genomics, focusing on protozoan parasites.

A highlight of the event was the publications workshop. A panel of editors from a variety of journals fielded questions about the ins and outs of the publication process. Our own PLoS Pathogens editors Kami Kim, Dominique Soldati-Favre, and Artur Scherf contributed to the panel along with Silvia Moreno who represented for PLoS ONE.

PLoS Pathogens was pleased to sponsor two prizes for outstanding presentations at the meeting. Congratulations to Christina Mueller (University of Geneva) and Sebastian Lourido (Washington University School of Medicine) who impressed the judges to become the recipient of these awards.

Christina’s presentation described the essential role of Toxoplasma gondii armadillo repeats containing protein (TgARO) in the biogenesis of rhoptry organelles. Rhoptries, together with micronemes are specialized secretory organelles that crucially assist Apicomplexans in host cell invasion. In the absence of TgARO, T. gondii parasites show a severe and selective defect in invasion. This dramatic impairment is caused by a defect in rhoptry organelle biogenesis. Electron microscopy revealed that rhoptry organelles are absent and in addition, single rhoptry-like structures appear at unusual sites within TgARO depleted parasites.

Sebastian’s work also investigated the biology of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii in this case exploring the roles of calcium-dependent protein kinases (CDPKs). One of these kinases, CDPK1, is responsible for regulating the secretion of specialized organelles that mediate motility and host cell invasion by the parasite. Unique among parasite kinases, CDPK1 has a large ATP-binding pocket that can accommodate bulky ATP analogues, which can allow for the tracking of its direct targets in the context of a cell lysate. Combining this with other genetic approaches, Sebastian’s group is in the process of identifying the targets that contribute to regulated secretion, with the hopes of understanding the cellular pathways regulating this central process in the parasite life-cycle.

The full abstracts for these and other presentations are available now online.

This blog post was written by Elizabeth Flavall (Senior Publications Assistant of PLoS Pathogens).

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