Selective Knockdown of the Trypanosoma brucei FLA Genes and Development of a Chemotaxis Assay



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Sleeping sickness, or African trypanosomiasis, is a disease found in Sub-Saharan Africa caused by the Trypanosoma brucei parasite. Trypanosomes move around within their vector, tsetse flies, and mammals by use of their single flagellum. The flagellum is unique in that it is attacheddown the length of the cell, in what is known as the flagellar attachment zone (FAZ). I have chosen to study two closely related genes, FLA1 and FLA 2,because the FLA1 protein is thought to localize to the FAZ. The first objective of this project is to suppress the product of each FLA gene individually in order to observe and compare the resulting phenotypes to each other, as well as to the results of previous experiments. Chemotaxis is the process by which an organism senses a chemical gradient and uses it to direct motion either toward or away from the source of the chemical. The parasites are taken up with a blood meal into the midgut of the fly where they must undergo several developmental stages before migrating to the salivary gland of the fly. This process is thought to be controlled by chemotaxis. The second objective of this project is to observe trypanosomes on agar plates in order to better understand how they behave,with the long term goal of being able to develop an assay for chemotaxis.



African sleeping sickness, RNA interference, RNAi, Chemotaxis