Grants awarded

Decoding mechanisms of gene regulation in African trypanosomes 


Prof David Horn

University of Dundee

United Kingdom

Single-celled parasites, known as trypanosomes, are transmitted by African tsetse flies and cause deadly diseases in humans and animals. Antigenic variation is one of their most prominent features and it allows these persistent parasites to thwart the adaptive immunity of their host. The parasites also use sugar in human blood for major remodelling during the transmission cycle. These features require sophisticated gene expression controls. Trypanosomes are highly tractable and it is possible to precision edit their parasite DNA sequences.

I will determine exactly how the gene expression controls work. With key regulatory proteins and hundreds of regulatory sequences already identified, we can now determine how the parasites activate specific proteins and shut down others. 

Our studies will yield insights into mechanisms that also operate in other parasites. Since we work closely with drug discovery teams in Dundee, we can readily exploit opportunities to develop new therapies.