Congratulations to Clara Smoniewski, PhD, first author and former Graduate Research Assistant in the Zimmer Lab,  Austin Petersen, current Graduate Research Assistant, and Sara Zimmer, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the Medical School, Duluth Campus, who published a new article in the journal Frontiers in Parasitology.

The Zimmer lab researches gene expression in a special type of single-celled parasite. In their newest article, published in Frontiers in Parasitology, they describe the effects of manipulating two proteins in the parasite Trypanosoma brucei, which causes human and livestock diseases in Africa. The two proteins appear to be polymerases that add nucleotides to the ends of mRNA. These additional nucleotides are called mRNA tails, and they serve as regulators of their mRNA molecules – dictating their stability and translation into protein. To better understand how the tails are generated, first author Clara Smoniewski and collaborators compared features of the mRNA tails such as their length while manipulating the two polymerases. They found that increasing the polymerases’ abundances and mutating key sites on one of them changed mRNA tail characteristics. In general, regulation of gene expression is critical for T. brucei to survive in its hosts. Understanding the mechanisms that regulate gene expression could eventually lead to new therapeutics to treat the diseases this parasite causes. Read the article.