A fine functional homology between chitinases from host and parasite is relevant for malaria transmissibility

A. Giansanti, M. Bocchieri, V. Rosato, S. Musumeci

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High levels of plasma chitotriosidase are a marker of macrophage activation in several pathologies and, in particular, in human malaria. Plasmodium falciparum, during its maturative cycle in the midgut of the Anopheles mosquito, secretes a chitinase to disrupt the peritrophic membrane, a necessary step in the migration of the parasite from the midgut to the salivary glands of malaria's vector. The cooperation between human chitotriosidase (Chit) and the chitinase from P. falciparum in attacking the peritrophic membranes in the Anopheles midgut has been recently demonstrated by in vivo experiments. The present study confirms, by computational methods, this functional homology. A simple sequence analysis method, potentially useful to assess fine textual closeness in families of homologous proteins, is reported here and applied to a set of chitinases from mammals and plasmodia. This analysis confirms the clustering and the phylogenetic relationships obtained with well-known alignment methods, but also shows that the sequences of chitinases from malaria hosts and malaria parasites are correlated. This correlation, a sign of functional homology, is discussed as a condition for the spreading of different forms of malaria. From this perspective, one can get insight into the origins of malaria and its genetic or pharmacological control. © 2007 Springer-Verlag.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)639 - 645
Number of pages7
JournalParasitology Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2007
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology

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