Welcome to the Department of Biochemistry, part of the University of Oxford's Medical Sciences Division. We are one of the largest Biochemistry departments in the world and carry out world-class research and teaching. Our researchers come from a range of disciplines and work in a collaborative environment on all aspects of modern molecular and cellular biochemistry. We hope you enjoy reading more about our activities on these pages.
Professor Mark Sansom, Head of Department
Malarial invasion protein yields structural clues for vaccine development
A group of Oxford researchers has revealed promising new findings about a protein necessary for invasion of red blood cells by malarial parasites.
The structure of PfRH5: two views of the protein construct used for crystallisation studies, coloured as a rainbow from blue (N terminus) to red (C terminus) (Click to enlarge)
The work from Dr Matt Higgins' lab in the department in collaboration with Dr Simon Draper at the Jenner Institute is published in Nature (1).
It describes the structure of Plasmodium falciparum RH5, the only malarial protein so far shown to be essential in the invasion process, and its interaction with host protein, basigin.
By targeting one of the best vaccine candidates for malaria, the work opens the door for the development of a new generation of vaccines against this deadly disease.
The RH5 protein belongs to one of two protein families that are important for the invasion process. Reticulocyte-binding protein homologue (RH) proteins are found in all Plasmodium species, but only RH5 from Plasmodium falciparum (PfRH5) has been shown to be essential in the invasion process in all tested strains.