The intestinal disease giardiasis is one of the most common parasitic infections worldwide affecting approximately 2.5 million humans every year, and has been included in the list of WHO Neglected diseases since 2004. Giardiasis in humans is caused by Giardia lamblia belonging to the Genus Giardia a group of binucleate, flagellated protozoan parasites which lack common eukaryotic structures such as peroxisomes, a traditional Golgi apparatus and typical mitochondria.
My research interest is focused on protein trafficking and import to the parasites’ mitosome. Mitosomes are believed to be highly reduced mitochondria which have lost typical mitochondrial functions such as ATP synthesis, citric acid cycle metabolism and respiration. Despite completion of the Giardia genome project, a homologue of Tom40 is the only component of the TOM complex that has been identified and characterized in Giardia. Therefore the mechanism of protein import into the mitosome is not fully understood. Using an overexpression system we are cloning and expressing human mitochondria genes in Giardia to understand the level of conservation and divergence of the mitosomal protein import system.
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