O-glycosylation permits malaria parasites to infect both mosquito and human hosts

Dr Justin Boddey, NHMRC CDF2 Fellow, Laboratory Head, Infection and Immunity Division, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, VIC

Malaria parasites injected into the skin by a mosquito rapidly infect the liver and grow in this organ for approximately 1 week before attacking red blood cells. When another mosquito bites and imbibes infected blood, parasites are transmitted back to the mosquito and can be spread to other people. A deeper understanding of parasite transmission between mosquitoes and humans may provide new opportunities for the treatment and eradication of malaria. Dr Justin Boddey’s laboratory studies the molecular mechanisms governing infection of the mosquito and human hosts as a potential means to develop interventions against malaria.

Dr Boddey is a Laboratory Head in the Division of Infection and Immunity at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) and Faculty member in the Department of Medical Biology at the University of Melbourne. He received his PhD from Griffith University in 2006 working on pathogenic bacteria that cause melioidosis. He then worked at WEHI as an NHMRC Peter Doherty Fellow and studied protein export to the Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocyte. In 2012, he established his laboratory at WEHI as an ARC QEII Fellow, where his team developed the first inhibitors of the protein export pathway that kill malaria parasites at multiple stages of the lifecycle. His laboratory uses an insectary to propagate the deadly human parasite P. falciparum through mosquitoes in order to study the molecular determinants of mosquito and liver infection.