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Professor Johannes Dessens

BSc MSc PhD

Professor
of Parasite Cell Biology

Room
362B

LSHTM
Keppel Street
London
WC1E 7HT
United Kingdom

Tel.
+44 (0)207 927 2865

I studied Plant Pathology at the University of Wageningen, The Netherlands, before embarking on a PhD in molecular virology at the John Innes Institute in Norwich. After a couple of postdocs in virology in INRA Versailles and IVEM Oxford, respectively, I got involved with malaria research at Imperial College London. The recipient of a Wellcome Trust University Award I obtained a senior lecturer position at the LSHTM, which I started in the autumn of 2005.

Affiliations

Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases
Department of Infection Biology

Centres

Malaria Centre

Teaching

I am Organiser of the study unit "Molecular Biology" (3333) taught in Term 1. I also teach on the study unit "Vector biology and vector parasite interactions" (3166) in Term 2. I am Departmental Research Degree Coordinator in the Department of Infection Biology.

 

Research

Our research involves functional genomics of malaria parasites using the rodent malaria model Plasmodium berghei. This work evolves around the generation of genetically modified parasites in which target genes are disrupted, tagged or mutated, providing important information on the expression, function and redundancy of gene products. We were the first in the UK to successfully establish the gene targeting technology in P. bergheiand have since applied the technology to investigate the function of many different Plasmodium genes. We have over 24yrs experience of working with this parasite model in the mouse and mosquito stages and we possess a comprehensive set of specific reagents, molecular tools, and biological protocols to facilitate this work. We successfully pioneered protein tagging with green fluorescent protein and mCherry red fluorescent protein in P. berghei, allowing studies of protein subcellular trafficking and interaction in living cells. 

Our active and longstanding research programme has two main components:

(1) The role of the subpellicular network (SPN) in malaria parasite development and infectivity. The SPN is a cortical cytoskeletal structure of apicomplexan parasites that is involved in morphogenesis, viscoelasticity and motility of apicomplexan zoites. We were the first to identify a family of unique intermediate proteins termed alveolins that are major components of the SPN, and we have shown that many have essential functions throughout the Plasmodiumlife cycle. Our current focus is on determining the molecular mechanisms by which alveolins facilitate SPN targeting, filament formation, tensile strength and locomotion.

(2) The role of the crystalloid organelle in sporogonic development of malaria parasites. The crystalloid is an enigmatic organelle found uniquely in the ookinete and young oocyst life cycle stages of malaria parasites. We were the first to identify a family of LCCL lectin domain adhesive-like proteins (LAPs) that reside in the crystalloid and demonstrate their essential roles in crystalloid biogenesis. These studies have revealed that the crystalloid is critically involved in sporogony. Our current focus is on elucidating the molecular mechanisms by which the crystalloid facilitates sporogonic development and sporozoite transmission.

Research Area
Parasites
Vaccines
Disease control
Methodology
Protozoa
Discipline
Genomics
Cell biology
Molecular biology
Vector biology
Disease and Health Conditions
Infectious disease
Malaria
Tropical diseases
Vector borne disease
Zoonotic disease
Country
United Kingdom
Region
World

Selected Publications

Crystalloids: Fascinating Parasite Organelles Essential for Malaria Transmission.
Dessens JT; Tremp AZ; Saeed S
2021
Trends in parasitology
NAD(P) transhydrogenase has vital non-mitochondrial functions in malaria parasite transmission.
Saeed S; Tremp AZ; Sharma V; Lasonder E; Dessens JT
2020
EMBO reports
Plasmodium berghei LAPs form an extended protein complex that facilitates crystalloid targeting and biogenesis.
Tremp AZ; Saeed S; Sharma V; Lasonder E; Dessens JT
2020
JOURNAL OF PROTEOMICS
Distinct Functional Contributions by the Conserved Domains of the Malaria Parasite Alveolin IMC1h.
Coghlan MP; Tremp AZ; Saeed S; Vaughan CK; Dessens JT
2019
FRONTIERS IN CELLULAR AND INFECTION MICROBIOLOGY
Dysregulated gene expression in oocysts of Plasmodium berghei LAP mutants.
Saeed S; Lau C-I; Tremp AZ; Crompton T; Dessens JT
2019
Molecular and biochemical parasitology
The Plasmodium LAP complex affects crystalloid biogenesis and oocyst cell division.
Saeed S; Tremp AZ; Dessens JT
2018
International journal for parasitology
A potent series targeting the malarial cGMP-dependent protein kinase clears infection and blocks transmission.
Baker DA; Stewart LB; Large JM; Bowyer PW; Ansell KH; Jiménez-Díaz MB; El Bakkouri M; Birchall K; Dechering KJ; Bouloc NS
2017
Nature communications
Palmitoylation of Plasmodium alveolins promotes cytoskeletal function.
Tremp AZ; Al-Khattaf FS; Dessens JT
2017
Molecular and biochemical parasitology
LCCL protein complex formation in Plasmodium is critically dependent on LAP1.
Tremp AZ; Sharma V; Carter V; Lasonder E; Dessens JT
2017
Molecular and biochemical parasitology
Maternally supplied S-acyl-transferase is required for crystalloid organelle formation and transmission of the malaria parasite.
Santos JM; Duarte N; Kehrer J; Ramesar J; Avramut MC; Koster AJ; Dessens JT; Frischknecht F; Chevalley-Maurel S; Janse CJ
2016
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Distinct temporal recruitment of Plasmodium alveolins to the subpellicular network.
Tremp AZ; Al-Khattaf FS; Dessens JT
2014
Parasitology research
Translational repression controls temporal expression of the Plasmodium berghei LCCL protein complex.
Saeed S; Carter V; Tremp AZ; Dessens JT
2013
Molecular and biochemical parasitology
Morphogenesis of Plasmodium zoites is uncoupled from tensile strength.
Tremp AZ; Carter V; Saeed S; Dessens JT
2013
Molecular microbiology
Regulation of murine normal and stress-induced erythropoiesis by Desert Hedgehog.
Lau C-I; Outram SV; Saldaña JI; Furmanski AL; Dessens JT; Crompton T
2012
Blood
Malaria crystalloids: specialized structures for parasite transmission?
Dessens JT; Saeed S; Tremp AZ; Carter V
2011
Trends in parasitology
Vital functions of the malarial ookinete protein, CTRP, reside in the A domains.
Ramakrishnan C; Dessens JT; Armson R; Pinto SB; Talman AM; Blagborough AM; Sinden RE
2011
International journal for parasitology
Plasmodium berghei crystalloids contain multiple LCCL proteins.
Saeed S; Carter V; Tremp AZ; Dessens JT
2010
Molecular and biochemical parasitology
Sonic hedgehog negatively regulates pre-TCR-induced differentiation by a Gli2-dependent mechanism.
Rowbotham NJ; Hager-Theodorides AL; Furmanski AL; Ross SE; Outram SV; Dessens JT; Crompton T
2009
Blood
PbSR is synthesized in macrogametocytes and involved in formation of the malaria crystalloids.
Carter V; Shimizu S; Arai M; Dessens JT
2008
Molecular microbiology
Indian hedgehog (Ihh) both promotes and restricts thymocyte differentiation.
Outram SV; Hager-Theodorides AL; Shah DK; Rowbotham NJ; Drakopoulou E; Ross SE; Lanske B; Dessens JT; Crompton T
2008
Blood
SOAP, a novel malaria ookinete protein involved in mosquito midgut invasion and oocyst development.
Dessens JT; Sidén-Kiamos I; Mendoza J; Mahairaki V; Khater E; Vlachou D; Xu X-J; Kafatos FC; Louis C; Dimopoulos G
2003
Molecular microbiology
A malaria scavenger receptor-like protein essential for parasite development.
Claudianos C; Dessens JT; Trueman HE; Arai M; Mendoza J; Butcher GA; Crompton T; Sinden RE
2002
Molecular microbiology
Knockout of the rodent malaria parasite chitinase pbCHT1 reduces infectivity to mosquitoes.
Dessens JT; Mendoza J; Claudianos C; Vinetz JM; Khater E; Hassard S; Ranawaka GR; Sinden RE
2001
Infection and immunity
CTRP is essential for mosquito infection by malaria ookinetes.
Dessens JT; Beetsma AL; Dimopoulos G; Wengelnik K; Crisanti A; Kafatos FC; Sinden RE
1999
The EMBO journal
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