SEP 10, 2016 01:07 PM PDT

Heat Shock Protein may Trigger Parasitic Invasion

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch
Heat shock proteins are known to help the body respond to stress, but new research appears to implicate one of them, Hsp70, in the pathogenicity of Schistosoma larvae. When those larvae penetrate the skin, they grow into parasitic flatworms, resulting in schistosomiasis. Schistosomiasis is relatively rare in the United States but the World Health Organization states that reports indicate that around 62 million people were treated for the disease in 2014 alone. Learn more about this disease by watching the short video below by the Natural History Museum of London.
 

 
More in depth understanding of the disease is necessary in order to develop better prevention or a cure, rather than just treatments. The discovery, made by scientists at Case Western Reserve University and published in the online journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, is a step in that direction. It could also be a clue as to the mechanisms of other parasitic infections. The Hsp70 protein is a common one in many organisms.
 
"Normally, heat shock proteins play roles in individual cells to modulate proteins," explained study co-author Emmitt Jolly, an Associate Professor of Biology at Case Western Reserve. "It's the first time that we know of that it's been shown Hsp70 can modulate the behavior of an entire organism. Not only that, it modulates its activity in terms of invading a host."
 
Researchers found that heat shock protein 70 induces Schistosoma larvae to hone in on and penetrate skin, indicating the protein is a regulator of the molecular pathway for invasion. / Credit: Emmitt Jolly
 
The investigators observed a high amount of a transcription factor, Hsf1, in an unusual area, the glands used by the parasite to secrete enzymes that aid penetration of the skin for host invasion. Transcription factors activate genes in the nucleus of a cell, so the researchers wondered what purpose it served in those glands, which have no nucleus and thus no genes to activate. A target of Hsf1 is Hsp70, so the scientists blocked it at one stage of the life cycle.
 
In a surprise to the researchers, who expected the organisms to die, they saw a change in the behavior of the microbes. After treating the flatworms with a drug that affects Hsp70, they observed the microbe-initiating invasion, in the absence of the normal triggers.
 
Jolly, along with PhD student Kenji Ishida, is working to characterize the life cycle of the schistosoma parasite, which has a very complex life cycle. The disease is a big problem in areas without access to clean and safe sources of drinking water, and is responsible for the deaths of around 280,000 people a year.
 
The drug praziquantil is currently the primary form of therapy. "Praziquantil has been used for decades, and there's concern for the development of resistance," Ishida said. "Identifying new targets for new drug development is important to the infectious disease community."
 
"If we can understand what's going on inside, that would open up a world of possibilities for drug targets," Jolly said. "This research is a step toward that."

If you'd like to know more about heat shock proteins, check out the video below from Shomu's Biology.
 

 
Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert!, WHO, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
 
About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
DEC 03, 2018
Neuroscience
DEC 03, 2018
Brain size and Intelligence
Identifying the connection between the brain size to smartness has become much more plausible due to accuracy in estimating the brain size by using technologically advanced neuroimaging metho...
DEC 09, 2018
Immunology
DEC 09, 2018
A Better Human Immune System: In Mice
We've cured cancer and autoimmune disease in mice many times over....
DEC 07, 2018
Microbiology
DEC 07, 2018
Epigenetic Inheritance is Revealed in Archaea
Researchers may have found a great new way to study tags that are added to the genome, which change how genes are expressed....
DEC 08, 2018
Cardiology
DEC 08, 2018
Adaptations Of The Heart To Chronic Exercise
We have all heard that exercise is good for us, particularly for the heart, but many don’t understand precisely how regular, long-term activity affec...
DEC 10, 2018
Neuroscience
DEC 10, 2018
Brain's Dopamine: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Dopamine in the brain is an important neurotransmitter that is often attributed to pleasure chemical. But that's not all it does; research has identified the role of dopamine in fear, emotion...
JAN 07, 2019
Neuroscience
JAN 07, 2019
Anti-Epileptic Stem Cells
Researchers from the Texas A&M College of Medicine, demonstrated that grafting of medial ganglionic eminence (MGE)-derived GABA-ergic progenitor cells into the hippocampus subdued the seizure...
Loading Comments...