Benjamin Liffner

Benjamin Liffner
Indiana University School of Medicine | IUSOM · Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

Doctor of Philosophy

About

29
Publications
2,165
Reads
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91
Citations
Introduction
PhD candidate studying red blood cell invasion by malaria parasites in the Wilson Lab at The University of Adelaide's Research Centre for Infectious Diseases.
Additional affiliations
January 2021 - present
Indiana University School of Medicine
Position
  • PostDoc Position
May 2018 - July 2018
Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine
Position
  • Visiting scholar
Description
  • Research conducted at Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in the Gilberger lab, as part of the Australia-Germany Joint Research Cooperation Scheme (German Academic Exchange Service / Universities Australia).
February 2017 - October 2020
University of Adelaide
Position
  • PhD Student
Education
February 2017 - February 2020
University of Adelaide
Field of study
  • Molecular parasitology
February 2016 - November 2016
March 2013 - December 2015

Publications

Publications (29)
Article
Full-text available
Membrane transport proteins perform crucial roles in cell physiology. The obligate intracellular parasite Plasmodium falciparum, an agent of human malaria, relies on membrane transport proteins for the uptake of nutrients from the host, disposal of metabolic waste, exchange of metabolites between organelles, and generation and maintenance of transm...
Article
For 140 years, microscopy has repeatedly revolutionized the study of nucleus biology, but despite this our understanding of the evolutionarily divergent nucleus biology of Plasmodium remains limited. Here, we discuss how microscopy advances have enabled two groundbreaking studies by Simon et al. and Klaus et al. into Plasmodium nucleus biology.
Article
Full-text available
Merozoite invasion of host red blood cells (RBCs) is essential for survival of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Proteins involved with RBC binding and invasion are secreted from dual-club shaped organelles at the apical tip of the merozoite called the rhoptries. Here we characterise P. falciparum Cytosolically Exposed Rhoptry Leafl...
Preprint
Full-text available
Membrane transport proteins perform crucial roles in cell physiology. The obligate intracellular parasite Plasmodium falciparum , an agent of human malaria, relies on membrane transport proteins for the uptake of nutrients from the host, disposal of metabolic waste, exchange of metabolites between organelles and generation and maintenance of transm...
Article
Full-text available
The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum undergoes closed mitosis, which occurs within an intact nuclear envelope, and differs significantly from its human host. Mitosis is underpinned by the dynamics of microtubules and the nuclear envelope. To date, our ability to study P. falciparum mitosis by microscopy has been hindered by the small size of...
Preprint
Full-text available
Mitosis in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum undergoes closed mitosis, which occurs within an intact nuclear envelope, and differs significantly from its human host. Mitosis is underpinned by the dynamics of microtubules and the nuclear envelope. To date, our ability to study P. falciparum mitosis by microscopy has been hindered by the sma...
Article
Parasites of the genus Plasmodium cause human and animal malaria, leading to significant health and economic impacts. A key aspect of the complex life cycle of Plasmodium parasites is the invasion of the parasite into its host cell, which is mediated by secretory organelles. The largest of these organelles, the rhoptry, undergoes rapid and profound...
Presentation
The disease-causing blood-stage of the Plasmodium falciparum lifecycle begins with invasion of human erythrocytes by merozoites. Many vaccine candidates with key roles in binding to the erythrocyte surface and entry are secreted from the large bulb-like rhoptry organelles at the apical tip of the merozoite. Here we utilise high- and super-resolutio...
Article
Full-text available
Apicomplexan parasites, such as human malaria parasites, have complex lifecycles encompassing multiple and diverse environmental niches. Invading, replicating, and escaping from different cell types, along with exploiting each intracellular niche, necessitate large and dynamic changes in parasite morphology and cellular architecture. The inner memb...
Preprint
Full-text available
Merozoite invasion of host red blood cells (RBCs) is essential for survival of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum . Proteins involved with RBC binding and invasion are secreted from dual-club shaped organelles at the apical tip of the merozoite called the rhoptries. Here we characterise P. falciparum Cytosolically Exposed Rhoptry Leaf...
Article
Full-text available
Background Resistance to front-line antimalarials (artemisinin combination therapies) is spreading, and development of new drug treatment strategies to rapidly kill Plasmodium spp. malaria parasites is urgently needed. Azithromycin is a clinically used macrolide antibiotic proposed as a partner drug for combination therapy in malaria, which has als...
Article
Full-text available
Proteins of the lipocalin family are known to bind small hydrophobic ligands and are involved in various physiological processes ranging from lipid transport to oxidative stress responses. The genome of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum contains a single protein PF3D7_0925900 with a lipocalin signature. Using crystallography and small-angl...
Article
Full-text available
The disease-causing blood-stage of the Plasmodium falciparum lifecycle begins with invasion of human erythrocytes by merozoites. Many vaccine candidates with key roles in binding to the erythrocyte surface and entry are secreted from the large bulb-like rhoptry organelles at the apical tip of the merozoite. Here we identify an essential role for th...
Preprint
Full-text available
Proteins of the lipocalin family are known to bind small hydrophobic ligands and are involved in various physiological processes ranging from lipid transport to oxidative stress responses. The genome of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum contains a single protein PF3D7_0925900 with a lipocalin signature. Using crystallography and small-angl...
Article
Apicomplexan parasites contain rhoptries, which are specialized secretory organelles that coordinate host cell invasion. During the process of invasion, rhoptries secrete their contents to facilitate interaction with, and entry into, the host cell. Here we report the crystal structure of the rhoptry protein Armadillo Repeats-Only (ARO) from the hum...
Article
Full-text available
Malaria claims about half a million lives each year. Plasmodium falciparum , the causative agent of the most severe form of the disease, uses proteins that are translocated to the surface of infected erythrocytes for immune evasion. To circumvent the detection of these gene products by the immune system, the parasite evolved a complex strategy that...
Poster
Pf3D7_1468400 is a highly conserved C3H1-type zinc finger protein expressed specifically in the invasive merozoite form of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. This project aims to functionally characterise Pf3D7_1468400 with a specific role in invasion using next-generation gene-editing technologies, biochemical assays and super-resolution...
Poster
Plasmodium falciparum merozoites release antigens from their rhoptries and micronemes in a strictly coordinated fashion to invade erythrocytes and establish the disease-causing blood stage. Despite the attraction of erythrocyte invasion as a therapeutic target, the protein components that control apical organelle function are yet to be fully elucid...
Poster
The disease-causing blood stage of the Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite lifecycle is reliant on initial invasion of the human red blood cell (RBC). Invasion of the host RBC by malaria merozoites is a rapid process that requires co-ordinated interactions between a large number of proteins, many of which have no known function. We have characte...
Preprint
Full-text available
The disease-causing blood stage of the Plasmodium falciparum lifecycle begins with invasion of human erythrocytes by merozoites. Many vaccine candidates with key roles in binding to the erythrocyte surface and entry are secreted from the large bulb-like rhoptry organelles at the apical tip of the merozoite. Here we identify an essential role for th...
Poster
Determining the subcellular localisation of malaria parasite proteins is a vital step in elucidating their function. Typically, merozoite invasion ligands are localised through imaging of mature schizonts. However, in three-dimensions the close proximity of developing merozoites can complicate localisation analyses, particularly with apical tip pro...
Poster
Determining the subcellular localisation of malaria parasite proteins is a vital step in elucidating their function. Typically, merozoite invasion ligands are localised through imaging of mature schizonts. However, in three-dimensions the close proximity of developing merozoites can complicate localisation analyses, particularly with apical tip pro...
Poster
Malaria caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum is responsible for over 400,000 deaths per year. The clinical symptoms of malaria occur during the blood-stage, where asexual merozoites utilise specialised secretory organelles known as the rhoptries and micronemes to invade erythrocytes. Following invasion, parasites mature into schizonts, whic...
Presentation
Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by Plasmodium parasites, and is responsible for the deaths of ~400,000 children annually. Currently, there is no vaccine that protects against severe disease in infants, and spreading insecticide and antimalarial drug resistances pose serious threats to the long-term efficacy of malaria control and prevent...

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Projects

Project (1)
Project
Invasion of red blood cells by malaria parasite is the most important step in the parasite life cycle. Organelles and proteins involved in invasion are essential for entry into host cells and are a major focus for vaccine and drug development. This project will characterise the structure and function of two newly identified antigens PfROMP1 and PfROMP2 associated with the invasion machinery of the merozoite and investigate their potential as vaccine and drug targets.