Every year hundreds of millions of people worldwide are affected by Malaria and nearly half a million die from the disease. More than two thirds of those dying are children under five. The disease is caused by parasites passed to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes, with Plasmodium falciparum being the parasite responsible for the most severe form of malaria.
Cell-to-cell variability in gene expression level (noise) has emerged as one of the fundamental concepts in genetics. Non-genetic, cell-to-cell variation in the abundance of a gene product can generate a diversity of behaviour in genetically identical population of cells. This phenomenon is pervasive and prevalent in development (e.g. stem cells) and disease (e.g. cancer). Genome-scale studies on gene expression noise have revealed that some genes are more random in their expression than others.
Researchers in the LMB’s Structural Studies Division have been able to show in more detail than ever before the structure of a large part of the spliceosome, a macromolecular machine involved in the maturation of messenger RNAs for protein synthesis.
Rebecca Voorhees and Manu Hegde, from the LMB’s Cell Biology Division, have used cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to determine how a channel that is essential for protein transport is opened. This channel, known as Sec61 in mammals, is needed for secretion of proteins from the cell and insertion of proteins into the membrane.