Dr. Radheshyam Maurya, Assistant Professor at the Department of Animal Biology, School of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad (UoH) has been awarded the long term ICMR-DHR International Fellowship for the year 2019-2020. He will be hosted by the renowned Leishmania biologist, Dr. David Sacks, Chief, Intracellular Parasite Biology, National Institute Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA, a leading medical research institute in the world. The proposed titled of his research is “A study on epigenetic modification of the host macrophage genome during Leishmania infection” to understand host pathogens Interactions in the pathogenesis of Visceral Leishmaniasis.

Leishmaniasis is a neglected tropical disease caused by the various species of a protozoan parasite called Leishmania. The disease manifestations vary from species to species and pathogenesis varies from cutaneous to visceral leishmaniasis. Leishmania donovani is a causative agent of Visceral Leishmaniasis (VL) in the Indian subcontinent. VL is a fatal disease if left untreated. Its symptoms are irregular bouts of fever, splenomegaly and hepatomegaly. The parasite has a complicated life cycle dwelling inside diverse host environments, such as immune cells of the mammalian host and the gut of a sand fly. Alteration of host cell gene expression and signalling pathways are the central strategy to dodge host cell immune response and thus facilitates the Leishmania parasite to survive, replicate and persist in its host cells. In general, an infection can lead to changes in expression of specific genes, such as those encoding transcription factors and chromatin modifiers. Alterations in host gene expression are often organism-specific, suggesting that the organism orchestrates these effects. The host-pathogen studies have the interactions of pathogenic proteins with proteins on the host cell surface or cytoplasm. Modifications of the host transcriptome and proteome are mediated by parasite-encoded effector molecules that modulate host cells through a variety of mechanisms such as gene expression and posttranslational modification on both cytoplasmic and nuclear proteins. As of now, a little is known about how Leishmania parasites could be modulating the DNA methylation and transcriptome of the host cell during infections. Dr. Maurya will try to understand the host pathogens interaction and their role in the pathogenesis of VL during his visit at NIAID, NIH, USA.