Juan, Aboagye and I spent several days on Welsh coast at the British Society for Parasitology’s spring meeting in Aberystwyth. Not the easiest place to get to from London, but definitely worth it – a nice location and a great meeting. It was good to be able to present our recently published apoL1 work and to get useful feedback on other ongoing projects.
Aboagye presented some of his PhD work exploring the anti-trypanosomal activity of Zanthoxylum zanthoxyloides extracts. Aboagye has just returned to the University of Ghana, Legon, after a four month visit to the lab. While at LSHTM, Aboagye used our RNAi library system to start decoding the parasite proteins that drive the anti-trypanosomal activity of several plant-derived compounds.
Juan presented his latest data exploring the regulation of rDNA array transcription. Having noted several years ago that only a subset of rDNA spacer loci in T. brucei are capable of supporting high level ectopic expression, we speculated that this might reflect the activity of the associated rDNA arrays, indicating that only a subset may be active at a time. By integrating reporters into several rDNA contexts, Juan has confirmed that not all rDNA arrays are equally active and has generated a tool set that will enable us to analyse their transcriptional regulation.
Appropriate regulation of rRNA transcription is fundamental to all living systems. However, it’s of particular importance to African trypanosomes, as uniquely amongst studied eukaryotes, RNA polymerase I also transcribes a subset of mRNAs (those for the abundant surface proteins, VSG and procyclin). Thus, these parasites may be exquisitely sensitive to changes in the optimal distribution of RNA polymerase I between competing mRNA and rRNA transcriptional pools.