LSTM Seminar: Dr Luisa Figueiredo on "Unexpected phenotypic variability in Trypanosoma brucei biology"

Event 22 Aug 2018

A seminar by Dr Luisa Figueiredo, Group Leader at iMM Lisboa since 2009. PhD (2002) from Universidade do Porto and Institut Pasteur, France & Post-doctoral research at The Rockefeller University, New York, USA

Parasitism relies on the ability of an organism to exploit its host. Trypanosoma brucei is a unicellular parasite responsible for a fatal disease in humans (sleeping sickness), and for a chronic disease in cattle (nagana) in Sub-Saharan Africa. We are interested in understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms employed by T. brucei to be an effective parasite. Our group has three main interests:

TISSUE TROPISM - We recently demonstrated that the adipose tissue is a major parasite reservoir during a mouse infection and that parasites functionally adapt to the tissue. These unexpected observations raised many questions: how do parasites move between tissues? What is the selective advantage to accumulate in this tissue? Are parasites equally susceptible to drug treatment? How do parasites enter/exit the tissues? What is the extravascular contribution to the dynamics of parasite transmission?

CIRCADIAN RHYTHM – We showed that Trypanosomes have a circadian clock that control their metabolism. What are the molecular components and mechanisms of this circadian clock? How does it control metabolism? What is the impact in parasite virulence and disease outcome? We also showed that Trypanosomes alter the circadian rhythm of the host. How is this interaction mediated? Who benefits most from these changes? The host or the parasite?

ANTIGENIC VARIATION – A long standing interest of our group is to understand the mechanisms that govern antigenic variation, a process that allows trypanosomes to escape the host immune response. We are currently interested in understanding the importance that non-coding RNAs and epigenetic modifications in the regulation of genes underlying antigenic variation.

Our lab has been awarded an ERC consolidator grant in 2017. Previous grants were from HHMI, EMBO, FCT and Gulbenkian.

This seminar will be live-streamed via:

A recording will be made available on the LSTM website the following day