Maier Group - Molecular mechanisms of malaria pathogenesis

Maier Lab Maier Lab

The research questions we are trying to answer are revolving around "How do malaria parasites survive in the host?", "What is are the mechanisms of sexual differentiation?", and "What special roles do lipids play in the life-cycle progression of the malaria parasite?". Hence the Maier Group focusses on the identification of molecules involved in malaria pathogenesis and transmission. In order to elucidate the functions of these molecules we use biochemical, molecular, genetic and cell biological techniques. The long-term goal is not only to identify and develop new intervention strategies against malaria, but also to understand the underlying biological principles.

The Maier Group is also interested in adaptations to the parastic life-style and the impact of parasites more broadly.

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Selected publications

  • Alexander G. Maier: “Now I feel like a true parasitologist” - Concept-based training for Early Career Scientists, Veterinary Parasitology 2018; 252: 80-84. 
  • Erick T. Tjhin, Christina Spry, Alan L. Sewell, Annabelle Hoegl, Leanne Barnard, Anna E. Sexton, Vanessa M. Howieson, Alexander G. Maier, Darren J. Creek, Erick Strauss, Rodolfo Marquez, Karine Auclair and Kevin J. Saliba: Mutations in the pantothenate kinase of Plasmodium falciparum confer diverse sensitivity profiles to antiplasmodial pantothenate analogues PLoS Pathogens, 2018;14(4):e10069
  • Meng Zhang, Pierre Faou, Alexander G. Maier,* Melanie Rug*: Plasmodium falciparum export protein PFE60 plays a role in Maurer’s clefts architecture, International Journal for Parasitology 2018; 48: 83-95
  • Phuong N. Tran, Cameron Tate, Melanie C. Ridgway, Kevin J. Saliba, Kiaran Kirk and Alexander G. Maier: Human dihydrofolate reductase influences the sensitivity of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum to ketotifen - a cautionary tale in screening transgenic parasites International Journal for Parasitology: Drugs and Drug Resistance, 2016 6, 179-183
  • Phuong N. Tran, Simon H. J. Brown, Melanie Rug, Melanie C. Ridgway, Todd W. Mitchell and Alexander G. Maier: Changes in lipid composition during sexual development of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum; Malaria Journal, 2016 Feb 6, 15:73
  • Melanie Rug, Marek Cyrklaff, Antti Mikkonen, Leandro Lemgruber, Simone Kuelzer, Cecilia Sanchez, Jennifer Thompson, Eric Hanssen, Matthew O’Neill, Christine Langer, Michael Lanzer, Freddy Frischknecht, Alexander G. Maier and Alan F. Cowman: Export of virulence proteins by malaria-infected erythrocytes involves remodelling of host actin cytoskeleton; Blood, 2014 Nov 27;124(23):3459-68
  • Phuong N. Tran, Simon H. J. Brown, Todd W. Mitchell, Kai Matuschewski, Paul J. McMillan, Kiaran Kirk, Matthew W. A. Dixon and Alexander G. Maier: A female-gametocyte-specific ABC transporter plays a role in lipid metabolism in the malaria parasite Nature Communications, 2014 Sep 8;5:4773.
  • Alexander G. Maier: The Malariologist’s Molecular Toolbox, In: Jane Carlton, Susan Perkins, Kirk Deitsch eds. Malaria Parasites - Comparative Genomics, Evolution and Molecular Biology (2012). Hethersett, Norwich, UK: Horizon Scientific Press
  • Alexander G. Maier, Brian M. Cooke, Alan F. Cowman and Leann Tilley: Malaria parasite proteins that remodel the host erythrocyte, Nature Reviews Microbiology, 2009 May 7 (5): 341-354
  • Alexander G. Maier, Melanie Rug, Monica Brown, Matthew T. O’Neill, Srabasti Chakravorty, Tadge Szestak, Joanne Chesson, Yang Wu, Katie Hughes, Ross Coppel, Chris Newbold, James Beeson, Alister Craig, Brendan S. Crabb and Alan F. Cowman: Exported Proteins Required for Virulence and Rigidity of Plasmodium falciparum-Infected Human Erythrocytes, Cell, 2008 Jul 11, 134:48-61
  • Alexander G. Maier*, Melanie Rug*, Matthew T. O’Neill, James Beeson, Matthias Marti, John Reeder and Alan F. Cowman: Skeleton Binding Protein 1 functions at the parasitophorous vacuolar membrane to traffic PfEMP1 to the Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocyte surface, Blood 2007 Feb, 109(3): 1289-1297 
  • Manoj T. Duraisingh, Alexander G. Maier, Tony Triglia and Alan F. Cowman: The erythrocyte binding antigen-175 functions in invasion of human erythrocytes by Plasmodium falciparum utilizing sialic acid-dependent and -independent pathways, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100 (8) (2003) 4796-4801
  • Alexander G. Maier, Manoj T. Duraisingh, John C. Reeder, Sheral S. Patel, James W. Kazura, Peter A. Zimmerman and Alan F. Cowman: Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte invasion via glycophorin C and selection for Gerbich-negativity in human populations, Nature Medicine 9 (1) (2003) 87-92.

Forward genetic screening identifies a link between Plasmodium falciparum fever response, artemisinin resistance and the algal origins of the apicoplast

Event | Mon 2 March 2020
The emergence and spread of Plasmodium falciparum parasites that are resistant to front-line antimalarial artemisinin-combination therapies (ACT) threatens to erase the considerable gains against the disease of the last decade. We developed a new large-scale phenotypic screening pipeline and used it to carry out the fi

Feeling hot in here: thermotolerance and drug sensitivity in malaria parasites

Event | Fri 28 February 2020
Audrey Odom John, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. A physician-scientist, Dr. John’s NIH-funded research has focused on Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasites, with a particular interest in targeting parasite metabolism to identify novel targets for drug development

Chromatin structure and epigenetics in Plasmodium falciparum

Event | Thu 27 June 2019

 The genome of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum is maintained primarily as transcriptionally competent, euchromatin with only rest

Roles of IgM in immunity to malaria in humans

Event | Thu 13 June 2019

A key mediator of protective immunity to malaria is antibodies that block merozoite invasion of the RBC.

Targeting host cell factors as a novel anti-malarial strategy

Event | Thu 11 April 2019

Malaria causes a significant health burden worldwide. An efficient vaccine has yet to be developed but a handful of treatment options exist.

New tools for malaria eradication: integrated packages for geospatial mapping, population-based sampling and high-sensitivity testing

Event | Thu 28 February 2019

Malaria elimination/ eradication has been a global policy for the past decade and has enabled some tremendous achievements.

Erythrocyte host modifications in Plasmodium falciparum

Event | Thu 14 February 2019

Malaria is a deadly disease, caused by parasite Plasmodium falciparum, that affects a large percentage of the world’s population.

The Red Queen's Race, as depicted by John Tenniel in Chapter Two – The Garden of Live Flowers

Parasites as evolutionary drivers

Story | Friday 7 August 2020
"How could I have been so naive to think that parasites would not have an intrinsic role to play in every ecosystem considering the fundamentals of evolution?" muses Samantha Shippley in this blog post.

Love the parasite you're with - the entertaining life of unwelcome guests from flea circuses to Aliens

Story | Tuesday 9 June 2020
In fiction and popular culture, parasitic characters appear as a metaphor for the threat and spread of disease.
Finding a cure for malaria

Finding a cure for malaria

Story | Wednesday 28 November 2018
Students from ANU and Humboldt University in Berlin talk about the International Research Training Group 'Crossing Boundaries: Molecular interactions in malaria', while on a retreat at the ANU Kioloa campus. 

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