Dec 2, 2022
A newly-discovered epigenetic marker may reveal how the parasite survives in the human host
The malaria parasite is resilient, with thousands of genes that can be differentially expressed to evade the immune system. The expression of those genes is determined by environmental factors and controlled through ‘epigenetic markers’. They turn the genes on or off – and give the parasite flexibility in the human host. A new marker has recently been discovered in Plasmodium falciparum. It’s called histone lactylation and may help the parasite survive, through its response to inflammation. As the parasite respires in the blood, it produces lactate. A build-up of lactate – hyperlactatemia – can cause an inflammatory response. But that inflammatory response can be so strong that it could kill the parasite that caused it. It’s thought that, through histone lactylation, the parasite turns on genes that make it more resistant to inflammation.
About The Podcast
The Johns Hopkins Malaria Minute podcast is produced by the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute to highlight impactful malaria research and to share it with the global community.