Mitochondrial enzymes in the parasites causing toxoplasmosis and malaria – a complex story!  

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Several seminars are held weekly at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, an initiative that aims to bring together all researchers around the topics under discussion.

The sessions, with internal researchers or guests, contribute to stimulate the open and extremely collaborative culture of the IGC.

You can read the abstract of this seminar to learn more about it.


The mitochondrion of apicomplexan – the parasites causing diseases such as toxoplasmosis and malaria - is divergent from “textbook” mitochondria and yet essential in all parasites and life stages studied. For this reason, it is an important source for both – new eukaryotic biology and new targets for drug discovery for apicomplexan diseases. Our team developed protocols enabling biochemical and structural work with this organelle and we are now able to make detailed mechanistic comparisons between T. gondii and other (often more commonly studied) eukaryotes, leading to the identification of critical differences between parasite and host mitochondria and between divergent eukaryotic organisms.  

This talk will focus on the study of the protein composition and function of essential mitochondrial protein-complexes in Toxoplasma with some comparison to Plasmodium. Interestingly, our work discovered novel components of all complexes studied, many of which are conserved across apicomplexans and missing from the host. In many cases we could demonstrate that the new components are essential for mitochondria operation and parasite survival, and in some cases, using structural analysis, we were able to decipher the new functions that are mediated by these novel and essential components.  



Lilach Sheiner
University of Glasgow


Postdoc Committee

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