Tsetse flies serve as a vector for African trypanosomes that cause sleeping sickness in humans and livestock. However, these flies are normally refractory to trypanosome infection with half the fly population becoming infected. Research has suggested that tsetse fly immunity factors are key determinants in the success or failure of infection and maturation process of parasites.
The production of genomics resources related to tsetse genome are coordinated by the International Glossina Genome Initiative (IGGI). In lieu of a sequenced tsetse fly genome and a subsequent genome annotation effort, a number of expressed sequence tags (ESTs) have been generated. Currently, our efforts are targeted towards developing a system to manage this data resource and the analysis of immunity related genes in the context of other characterized vector genomes.
In Collaboration with the members of the IGGI consortium, we are annotating the recently sequenced Glossina Genome.
Regulatory mechanisms of immunity-related genes
Novel mechanisms were recruited for specialization of immunity-related genes in chordates. It is very likely that insects and particularly tsetse flies would have specialized mechanisms to cope with various environmental challenges including infection by trypanosomes. In collaboration with Prof Bajic we are investing the promoter regions of immunity-related genes in the tsetse fly genome with a view of modeling regulatory networks that fine-tune immunological responses.
Students: Sarah Mwangi, Zarah Jalali, Mark Wamalwa, Sumir Panji