All multicellular organisms, including plants, have cells consisting of a specific set of organelles. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is one of the major organelles involved in the processing and delivery of proteins into a functional environment. It is composed of a dynamic network of membrane sheets and tubules that determine the function of the organelle. The aim of this project is to understand the machinery involved in shaping this network and to model the relationship between the two main ER structures and functions.
Transgenic plant lines with a fluorescently labelled endoplasmic reticulum were developed to reveal the architecture of this organelle. In vivo confocal microscopy will be used to image real-time transition between the two major shapes of the ER, tubules and sheets. Some of these plant lines are overexpressing reticulons, a membrane protein that is important in the formation of ER tubules. An image dataset will be produced to develop models about the geometry and architecture of the endoplasmic reticulum. Mutant plant lines will be generated to assess whether the up- or downregulation of reticulons will affect the biosynthetic capacity of the endoplasmic reticulum.
Please note the project will be carried out in summer 2015. This abstract will be edited to reflect the results obtained and the conclusions that were drawn.
There is an international drive to rapidly eliminate a number of neglected tropical diseases in poor populations. Yaws is such a disease, infecting only 2.5 million people, but causing them considerable pain and discomfort. This poorly understood disease mainly affects young children, with an incubation period of between 9 and 90 days. There is currently no published transmission model for Yaws and this impedes the design of effective control policies. The project will develop transmission and household models, using a vast array of mathematical tools, which will be analysed to see how the assumptions in the model lead to the observed dynamics.
The questions we seek to answer are what is the impact of earlier diagnosis? How does this compare with mass drug administration? And, how fast could we eradicate the disease? The study will allow us to add to the evidence supporting decisions about the best use of resources in tackling Yaws and under what condition the eradication target of 2020 set by the World Health Organization (WHO) is achievable.
The results of the project tell us that the WHO’s target is unrealistic and an adapted strategy is needed if eradication by 2020 is to be achievable and cost effective. The data and models also suggest that schools should be the targeted location for treatment. However we realize that our model has limitations and the disease displays complex endemic and epidemic characteristics which are not fully captured by the model.
Schistosomiasis and Leishmaniasis are neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) caused by schistosome helminths (Schistosoma spp.) and trypanosome protozoa (Leishmania spp.), respectively. Worldwide, 243 million and 350 million people are respectively affected- leading to debilitating clinical manifestations e.g. hepatosplenic and mucocutaneous lesions._x000D_ Water-rodents, including Nectomys squamipes and Holochilus brasiliensis, act as alternative hosts for completion of the S. mansoni and L. braziliensis life cycles, due to their exposure to infectious snail hosts and sandfly, respectively. However, it is unknown whether water-rats can naturally maintain these transmission cycles in the absence of humans, and/or whether they act as an amplifying host in the presence of human transmission.
Prepared rodent serum and tissue samples from 600 geo-referenced micro-chipped live mark-recaptured rodents (from Amaraji, Pernambuco state over an 18-month period) will undergo qPCR to detect S.mansoni and L. braziliensis DNA, respectively, using validated primer sets, and antibodies by ELISA. A semi-automated liquid handling station will be used to help standardise qPCR infection burden estimates between samples with data analysis completed using statistical.
Being the first known longitudinal study of rodents from varying habitats (peridomestic, sylvatic and plantations), the results will report the patterns of infection and how parasite burden varies through time.