Publicador de contenidos


Exploration of the singularities of the sugar nucleotide metabolism and description of novel glycosylation pathways in the malaria parasite

Foto: Cova M et al, Malaria J, 2015
Luis Izquierdo
MINECO (Spanish Ministry of Economy)

 We are progressively uncovering evidence pointing to the presence of short, non-complex glycosylations in Plasmodium parasites. Recent work reports that unknown a-galactose (a-gal) containing glycoconjugates on the surface of Plasmodium sporozoites induced antibody production providing sterile protection in malaria-infected mouse models. In addition, IgM antibodies against these a-gal antigens are associated with protection from P. falciparum infection in humans. In agreement, our work has revealed the unexpected presence in P. falciparum blood stages of a pool of UDP-galactose, which is the donor substrate of all galactosylation reactions, describing a probable biosynthetic pathway. Anti-a-gal based immunity is conferred in the pre-erythrocytic stages of parasite infection (i.e. prior to liver invasion) suggesting that malaria transmission could effectively be controlled at this important bottleneck of the parasite life cycle. Such level of sterile protection is not achieved with current vaccine development, making these a-gal-containing antigens an attractive therapeutic candidate for immunization.

Using as springboard our broad experience on the glycobiology of the malaria parasite, we propose to perform a complete characterization of the glycosylations found on the surface of extracellular forms of the parasite life cycle, focusing in Plasmodium sporozoites and merozoites. The aim of the proposed research is to use integrated glycomics, glycoproteomics and biochemical approaches aided by recent advances in analytical technologies, to verify the presence of Plasmodium glycoconjugates expressing specific immunogenic sugar epitopes. Furthermore, we aim to dissect the specificity of the anti-a-gal antibodies in individuals from endemic areas, as a tool to obtain valuable data about the immunodominant glycotopes responsible for eliciting anti-a-gal-associated protection against P. falciparum.

Altogether the investigation of these and other uncommon parasitic glycosylations may expose an unanticipated Achilles heel in the Plasmodium parasite that could be exploited to induce sterile protection against malaria, mimicking what has already been achieved using carbohydrate-protein conjugate vaccines against bacterial infections.

Total funding:

80,000 €

Nuestro equipo


ISGlobal team

Otros proyectos

Ver proyectos pasados


La Alianza Científica para la Erradicación de la Malaria (MESA) tiene como objetivo avanzar en la ciencia de la erradicación de la malaria.


Nuevas Herramientas para el Diagnóstico y la Evaluación del Paciente con Enfermedad de Chagas

Estudio inmunológico de la vacuna RTS,S

Estudio de correlatos de protección frente a la malaria después de la vacunación con RTS,S/AS01E: Una evaluación inmunológica exhaustiva en el ensayo clínico de Fase III, doble ciego, aleatorizado, multicéntrico con un grupo control

Control of Leishmaniasis. From bench to bedside and community


Grup de recerca en patología importada i malaties emergents i re-emergents


Nuevos regímenes de quimioterapia y biomarcadores para la enfermedad de Chagas


Unravelling Disease Tolerance and Host Resistance in Afebrile 'P. falciparum' Infections: a Prospective Study in Mozambican Adults


Administración masiva y focal de fármacos antimaláricos para avanzar hacia la eliminación de la malaria en Mozambique: acelerando la implementación de programas y políticas


MULTIple doses of IPTi Proposal: a Lifesaving high Yield intervention


Citizens engagement digital platform for collective intelligence in pandemics


Novel organ-on-a-chip technology to study extracellular vesicles-mediated cryptic infections in Plasmodium vivax malaria

MENA Migrant Health

Transforming data collection and surveillance to drive migrant health research, care and policy


Building Scalable Pathogen Genomic Epidemiology in Ethiopia


Identifying Severe Malaria with a new Aptamer-based Rapid diagnostic Test


Transcriptional regulation of adaptation and developmental decisions in malaria parasites: from epigenetic variation to directed transcriptional responses


P. falciparum genomic intelligence in Mozambique


Broad One Health Endectocide-based Malaria Intervention in Africa


Mechanisms of the transcriptional responses to changes in the environment in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum


Extracellular Vesicles as Intercellular Communicators and Biomarkers of Cryptic Erythrocytic Infections in Plasmodium vivax malaria


Unravelling the heterogoneity and function of monocytes in vaccination and immunity to malaria


Insight on climate and social participatory research for integral management of vectorborne zoonosis caused by Trypanosoma cruzi and Leishmania spp. in the Bolivian Gran Chaco.


Social affairs and sex in P. falciparum: implications for malaria elimination