Jeffrey K Beetham
Dr. Beetham’s lab has an active, ongoing focus in characterizing parasite-host interactions and parasite evasion of host immunity. He investigates the developmental biochemistry and molecular biology of protozoan parasites (post-doctoral study). Present Research: Leishmania are protozoan parasites that cause leishmaniasis, a collection of diseases of mammals (including humans) that vary in severity from the self-healing to the potentially fatal. Two long term aims within Beetham’s laboratory are to determine how the parasite survives the innate immune response of mammals, and to determine the mechanism by which genes that are required for infection undergo regulated and differential expression during parasite development. One present study, based on the strategy of gene complementation, aims at identifying and characterizing novel proteins or other macromolecules having function in parasite resistance to innate immunity. This is a novel use of the gene complementation approach that is likely to have similar utility in investigations of other microbial pathogens. Another ongoing study seeks to characterize the mechanism by which an abundant parasite-surface protein called Promastigote Surface Antigen acts to confer parasite resistance to innate immunity; these experiments extend from the discovery that Promastigote Surface Antigen functions in parasite resistance to innate immunity. It has become clear, based on studies from a number of laboratories, that parasite genes required for infectivity are upregulated at specific times during parasite development, and (surprisingly) that in all cases the regulation is post-transcriptional, not co-transcriptional. Past and ongoing studies in his lab seek to determine the mechanism by which such post-transcriptional regulation is achieved.