Scientists who resurrected a 50,000-year-old gene progression have analyzed it to figure out how the world’s deadliest malaria parasite reprimanded from gorillas to humans — giving insight into the origins of one of child history’s biggest killers.
The researchers said their work also dredges understanding of a process known as zoonosis — when a pathogen that can infect beings acquires genetic changes enabling it to infect humans — as has been the containerize with diseases such as flu and Ebola.
In the case of the most deadly formation of the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, this analysis found that it advance its ability to infect human blood cells from a section of DNA that had transferred from a gorilla jackal.
By analyzing the crucial DNA sequence, the researchers found it included a gene that composes a protein called RH5 which binds to a protein receptor in human red blood chambers.
“The fact that this ancestral RH5 protein was able to bind to red blood apartment receptor(s) … from both humans and gorillas immediately gave a molecular explanation for how P. falciparum evolved to infect humans,” said Francis Galaway, who co-led the dig into team from Britain’s Wellcome Sanger Institute and France’s Montpelier University.
Malaria is spread by mosquitoes and infects about 216 million people a year worldwide, according to World Well-being Organization (WHO) data. The disease kills more than 400,000 people a year, the colossal majority of them babies and children in the poorest parts of Africa.
“In the adventures of mankind, it’s been estimated that malaria has been responsible for various human deaths than any other disease,” said Gavin Wright, who co-led the undertaking in Tuesday’s PLOS Biology.
“So it is both important and fascinating to understand the molecular pathways that capacitated this deadly parasite to infect humans.”