World Malaria Day April 25

SLC4A1 in kidney.

This blog post is in honor of World Malaria Day

When infected mosquitos bite people they transmit parasites that causes malaria. Symptoms of malaria include fever and flu-like illness, and if left untreated the illness will cause anemia (loss of red blood cells) and eventually death.

According to WHO, malaria caused 429 000 deaths in 2015, and 70% of the deaths are children under the age of 5. Luckily, mortality rates are falling, and since 2010 the mortality has dropped with almost 1/3. Early diagnosis and treatment of malaria reduces deaths and prevents transmission. There are antimalaria drugs available, but currently, there is no availabe malaria vaccine. The main way to prevent and reduce malaria transmission is spraying the indoor walls with insecticides and sleeping under insecticide-treated nets.

Two proteins that are associated with malaria are Haptoglobin (HP) and Solute carrier family 4, member 1 (SLC4A1).

The human protein Haptoglobin (HP) has been linked to a reduced incidence of malaria caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum, one of the five parasite species that caused malaria. HP binds hemoglobin that is free in plasma. This prevents loss of iron through the kidneys and protects the kidneys from damage by hemoglobin, and at the same time allows degradative enzymes to gain access to the hemoglobin.

The heterozygous presence of a deletion in the gene for human protein Solute carrier family 4 (anion exchanger), member 1 (Diego blood group) (SLC4A1) is common in areas where Plasmodium falciparum malaria is endemic. Many mutations in this gene are known, and some mutations lead to disease whereas others result in novel blood group antigens, which form the Diego blood group system. SLC4A1 functions as a chloride/bicarbonate exchanger involved in carbon dioxide transport from tissues to lungs.

Browse the human proteins Haptoglobin HP and SLC4A1 or search for your favorite protein in the Human Protein Atlas.

Tove Alm