Functional analysis of the cGMP signalling pathway in malaria parasites: a master regulator of life-cycle progression


  • Prof David Baker

    London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

  • Prof Michael Blackman

    The Francis Crick Institute

Project summary

Cyclic GMP (cGMP) is an intracellular messenger molecule that plays important roles in most cell types. Levels of cGMP in the cell are controlled by the opposing action of two enzymes called guanylyl cyclases and phosphodiesterases. When an environmental signal triggers this pathway, it brings about intracellular changes, often via the activation of a cGMP-dependent protein kinase. The cGMP signalling pathway has numerous roles in mammals, including perception of light by the eye, smooth muscle contraction, and heart function. The malaria parasite, Plasmodium, also has a functional cGMP signalling pathway which has been shown in recent years to regulate several important events during its life cycle in both the human host and mosquito vector. Professors Blackman and Baker will investigate the function and regulation of the pathway using biochemical and genetic approaches. Significant differences between the parasite and mammalian systems will present opportunities to develop novel antimalarial drugs.