YPIE Scientist: Nirel

Updated: May 24

Research: The Effect of Aquaporin Expression on Plasmodium Development

Abstract: Malaria is an infectious disease that is caused by the Plasmodium parasite and kills approximately half a million thousand people per year. When Plasmodium first invades its host, it goes to the liver to replicate and uses its nutrients to benefit its development (Nyboer et al, 2017). It does this by hijacking aquaporins (AQP), which are membrane proteins that transport water and other small solutes (Cabrey & Agre, 2009). AQP3 transports water, glycerol, and urea in mammalian cells (Ishibashi et al., 1994;Ma et al., 1994) and is normally found in kidney, skin, and erythrocytes (Ishibashi K, 1997; Qin, 2011; Roudier, 1998). AQP9 also transports water, glycerol, and urea and is normally expressed in the liver (, 2021). However, AQP3, which is not in the liver normally, is primarily used to benefit Plasmodium growth instead of AQP9, which is usually expressed in the liver. The purpose of this research is to find out if a significant difference in the structure of AQP3 and AQP9 is the cause of this. In a study by Posfai et al. in 2018, scientists generated mutant AQP3 and AQP9 cell lines by depleting AQP3 mRNA and AQP9 mRNA in liver cells. \ These mutant and non mutant cells were infected with Plasmodium and the parasite sizes were measured 4 hours after infection, 24 hours after infection, and finally 48 hours after infection. To continue the intent of this research, these same procedures would be used, but using an electron microscope to monitor the aquaporins. AQP3 mRNA depletion decreased the size of the parasites by 69%. The AQP9 mutant cells saw a parasite size reduction by 63%. Based on these results, there is an expectation of a difference in their structures contributing to this difference in contributing to Plasmodium development. Finding out more about the liver stage of infection with Plasmodium could provide a route for discovering more efficient malaria treatments.

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