Gloria RudenkoDivision of Cell and Molecular Biology, Imperial College London, London, UK F1000 Faculty Member (since 28 September 2004)
• Wellcome Senior Research Fellow in the Basic Biomedical Sciences
• Reader in Molecular Microbiology
• MSc University of Leiden, the Netherlands
• PhD University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands and Columbia University, New York, USA
My research group studies African trypanosomes, which are spread by tsetse flies, and cause African Sleeping Sickness in sub-Saharan Africa. African trypanosomes are single-celled organisms which multiply extracellularly in the bloodstream of the infected mammalian host. Trypanosomes are very adept at changing their Variant Surface Glycoprotein (VSG) surface coat, allowing them to continuously escape from antibody attack during the course of a chronic infection. This continuous switching of the VSG surface coat is referred to as antigenic variation. We are studying the molecular mechanisms mediating antigenic variation in African trypanosomes. We are interested in how this protective VSG coat is synthesised, and how VSG protein is monitored during the trypanosome cell cycle. In addition, we are interested in how the transcription of VSG is regulated. Individual trypanosomes have many hundreds of VSG genes, of which only one VSG variant is expressed at a time. We are currently investigating how this stringent transcriptional control is mediated.
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