Benoit Gamain Ph.D. in molecular and cellular Parasitology

Course and current status

- From 01/10/2010: Severe Malaria Pathogenesis team leader, CNRS Research Director (DR2), National Institute of Blood Transfusion, UMR-S 1134 INSERM/Paris Diderot university, Paris. Partner of the GR-Ex Labex.

- 01/04/2003 to 30/09/2010: Tenure CNRS research associate (CR1) in the unit of Pr Artur Scherf (URA 2581) localized at the Pasteur Institute.

- 19/02/1998 to 31/03/2003: Visiting and Research fellow positions at the National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, USA), laboratory of Dr Louis H. Miller

- 1997: PhD in molecular and cellular PARASITOLOGY (University of Lille II)

Research investigations were performed in the INSERM U42 laboratory.

Thesis title: Biochemical and Molecular characterization of the glutathione peroxidase of Plasmodium.

Scientific summary

Our team is working on the identification of the host-parasite interactions involved during pregnancy associated malaria (PAM). Our main discovery results in the identification of the parasite protein (var2CSA) responsible for P. falciparum infected erythrocytes (PEs) sequestration in the placenta. Indeed, var2CSA is the only PfEMP1 variant whose transcription is upregulated in placental and laboratory parasites selected for CSA binding. Using var2CSA-knockout parasites, we have demonstrated that no other parasite ligand can promote extensive CSA and placental adhesion. Recently, we expressed and characterized the recombinant extracellular 300 kDa var2CSA protein. Structural characterization reveals a compact organization of the protein, most likely governed by specific interdomain interactions. The main objective of the severe malaria Pathogenesis team is to develop a functional vaccine to protect pregnant women from malaria. Our research efforts focus on the identification and the deciphering of the molecular interactions involved in the PEs cytoadhesion and the identification of the host post-adhesive events. Understanding the functional characteristics of parasite adhesion processes at the molecular level will provide a rational basis for accelerating vaccine and therapeutic developments to inhibit PEs sequestration.

The team has unique expertise in studying P. falciparum infected erythrocytes adhesion processes and have access to state of the art equipments and facilities. We have various international collaborations in the malaria and the structural biology fields.

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