Role of ion channels in sensing and adaptation to environmental conditions in protozoan parasites and host-parasite interactions
Protozoan parasites have a significant impact in global health, infecting millions of people around the word. The research in my laboratory is focused in studying the role that ion channels play in sensing and adaptation to environmental conditions in protozoan parasites like Trypanosoma cruzi, causing agent of Chagas disease, and Trypanosoma brucei, the human parasite responsible for sleeping sickness.
During its life cycle, T. cruzi, the causing agent of Chagas disease, is exposed to changing external conditions and different host. Successful transmission of the parasite depends on the ability of the cells to trigger adaptive responses and cope with stressors while regulating proliferation and transition to different life stages. Ion channels are key components of the sensing machinery in all types of cells and could play an important role in adaptive responses against environmental stressors.
Our approach integrates cellular and molecular biology, parasitology and biophysics and will welcome students with different skills and interest. Our goal is to understand the role of adaptation mechanisms for the parasite survival and infectivity and to use that information for developing new therapeutic tools against tropical neglected diseases.
Selected publications (Click for full list)
Jimenez V, Docampo R. TcPho91 is a contractile vacuole phosphate sodium symporter that regulates phosphate and polyphosphate metabolism in Trypanosoma cruzi. 2015. Mol Microbiol In press
Niyogi S, Jimenez V, Gerard-Dias W, de Souza W, Miranda K, Docampo R. 2015. Rab32 is Essential for Maintaining Functional Acidocalcisomes and for Growth and Infectivity of Trypanosoma cruzi. J Cell Sci 128(12):2363-7
Jimenez V, Kemmerling U, Paredes R, Maya JD, Sosa MA and Galanti N. 2014. Natural sesquiterpene lactones induce programmed cell death in Trypanosoma cruzi: a new therapeutic target? Phytomedicine 21(11):1411-8
Pace D, Liu J, Jimenez V and Moreno SNJ. 2014. Calcium entry in the Apicomplexan parasite Toxoplasma gondii is nifedipine sensitive and results in significant enhancement of invasion-linked traits. J Biol Chem 289(28):19637-47
Jimenez, V. 2014. Dealing with environmental challenges: mechanisms of adaptation in Trypanosoma cruzi. Res Microbiol 165(3):155-65