University of New Hampshire
Medical Laboratory Science
Mentor: Dr. Christine Bean, Department of Animal & Nutritional Science and Dr. Andrew Laudano, Department of Biochemistry, Dr. Christine Bean, Department of Animal & Nutritional Science and Dr. Andrew Laudano, Department of Biochemistry
Prediction of Immunodominant Neutralizing Epitopes of C. parvum to Block Infection
Cryptosporidium parvum is a small protozoan parasite, about 4-6 microns, that can infect the intestinal epithelial cells of wide range of animals and humans. It is a major cause of diarrhea worldwide. In healthy individuals, the disease is asymptomatic or self-limiting; however in immunocompromised patients the disease can be potentially life-threatening. In developing countries, Cryptosporidium is associated with malnutrition and contributes significantly to morbidity among children. Infection occurs when humans or animals ingest the oocysts, which are transmitted by the fecal-oral route. Unfortunately, no approved treatment against this organism is available. Therefore, this research will begin with a thorough literature search to find regions of proteins on the surface of this organism that are responsible for infection. Specifically, I will focus on those proteins required for C. parvum to enter the cell. Analyzing the functionally important regions of surface proteins will enable us to predict which proteins could potentially be blocked to inhibit the infection. After a protein region is predicted, peptides will be synthesized in the lab and injected into rabbits to induce the production of antibodies. A cell culture-based assay will be used to determine if the peptides and antibodies are able to block the infectivity of C. parvum. Cell culture is an in vitro method of assessing oocysts ability to infect cells. A blocking agent would prevent oocyst from entering the host cell and infection would be prevented. These studies may lead to improved therapies for treating C. parvum infections.