Malaria is still estimated to be responsible for 1 million deaths in vast parts of our planet. Within the human host, Plasmodium, malaria´s causative agent, infects very distinct cells types: liver hepatocytes and red blood cells. While in hepatocytes Plasmodium replicates in a single cycle of infection into thousands of new parasites, later in the blood Plasmodium replicates only in 10-20 parasites but in consecutive cycles of infection that are the cause of disease and death. We aim not only to uncover Plasmodium requirements to establish in its host but also to elucidate the major virulence mechanisms used by this parasite to obtain its key needs and how these processes impact human health.
» Research Areas
» Group Leader
» Research Team
Maria Manuel Mota
PhD (1998) in Molecular Parasitology at University College London, UK
1999-2002 - Post-doctoral research at New York University Medical Center, USA
2002-2005 - Principal Investigator at Instituto Gulbenkian Ciência, Oeiras (until 2005)
2005-2010 - International Research Scholar, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, USA
2005 – now - Invited Professor at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Lisbon
» Ongoing Research Projects
2012/2014 Utilization of host cell resources by the malaria parasite in the liver. FCT. Coordinator: Miguel Prudêncio. PTDC/SAU-MIC/117060/2010, 154.755,00 €
2012/2014 Mechanisms of nutrient-sensing by the malaria parasite. FCT. Coordinator: Liliana Mancio Silva. PTDC/SAU-MET/118199/2010, 123.410,00 €
2011/2014 Subverting the host ubiquitin-proteasome pathway towards an immune evasion strategy. FCT. Coordinator: Vanessa Luis. PTDC/SAU-MIC/113697/2009, 148.385,00 €
2010/2015 Towards the establishment of a permanent European Virtual Institute dedicated to Malaria Research (EVIMalaR) – EU FP7 European Network of Excellence. IMM coordinator: Maria M. Mota, 12.000.000,00 € (for the entire consortium).
2010/2013 The influence of bile acids on malaria liver infection. FCT. Coordinator: Miguel Prudêncio. PTDC/SAU-MII/099118/2008, 171.482,00 €
2010/2013 New drugs for treating and eradicating malaria. FCT. Coordinator: Maria M. Mota. HMSP-CT/SAU-ICT/0068/2009, 300.000,00 €
2010/2013 Respiratory tract & malaria co-infections. FCT. Coordinator: Maria M. Mota, MM. PTDC/SAU-MII/108578/2008, 190.850,00 €
2010/2013 Unravelling the secrets of Plasmodium liver stage. FCT. Coordinator: Maria M. Mota. PTDC/SAU-GMG/100313, 199.943,00 €
2010/2012 A new whole-organism vaccine against Malaria. Grand Challenges Explorations, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Coordinator: Miguel Prudêncio, 100.000,00 USD
» Science and Society Activities
Shahid Kahn, Blandine Franke-Fayard and Chris Janse (Leiden University, The Netherlands)
Friedrich Frischknetcht (Higiene Institut Heidelberg, Germany)
Michael Hannus and Cristophe Echeverichi (Cenix Bioscience, Dresden, Germany)
Kate Fitzgerald and Doug Golenbock (UMass)
Fidel Zavala (JHSPH, Baltimore, USA)
Sangeeta N. Bhatia (MIT, Cambridge, USA)
Mathias Mann (MPI, Martinsried, Germany)
Júlio Sampaio and Andrej Schevshenko (MPI, Dresden, Germany)
Oliver Billker (Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK)
Arthur Scherf (Institut Pasteur, Paris France)
Manuel Llinas (Princeton University, New Jersey, USA)
Jon Clardy (HMS, Boston, USA)
Francisca Lopes e Rui Moreira (Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal)
Francisco-Xavier Gamo and Iñigo Angulo-Barturen (GSK, Tres Cantos, Spain)
Mathias Marti (HMS, Boston, USA)
Robert Sauerwein (Nijmegen University, The Netherlands)
Participation in the Ciência Viva Program and others: provides laboratory internships to secondary school and university students during the summer, for a period of 3 weeks.
Promotion of science divulgation through several initiatives, namely, visits to Malaria Unit Laboratory.
Several Science Communications through media appearances (press, radio and television).
» Selected Publications
2011 1st Poster Prize to Joana Carrelha (MSc Student) – 1º Encontro de Biologia Molecular em Saúde, Lisboa, Portugal
2010 1st Poster Prize by “Science” to Ghislain Cabal (Post-doctoral fellow) – EMBO conference “At the Joint Edge of Cellular Microbiology and Cell Biology”
2008 Prémio Amélia da Silva de Mello para as Ciências da Saúde 4ª Edição, "SR_BI plays a dual role in the establishment of malaria liver infection" (Cristina Rodrigues, Miguel Prudêncio e Maria Mota)
2008 ERA-NET PathoGenoMics PhD Award to Cristina Rodrigues - ERA-NET PathoGenoMics
2008 Prémio Mulher Activa 2008 (2º prémio) to Maria M. Mota - Revista Activa
2007 “Seeds of Science” Prize to Maria M. Mota - Ciência Hoje
2007 CESPU International Science Award 2nd edition - Um contributo para o desenvolvimento das ciências e tecnologias da saúde, "SR_BI plays a dual role in the establishment of malaria liver infection" (Cristina Rodrigues, Miguel Prudêncio e Maria Mota).
2007 1st Poster Prize to Cristina D. Rodrigues (PhD student) - Third Annual BioMalPar Conference on Biology and Pathology of the Malaria Parasite (Heidelberg, Germany)
2005 AMI Health Prize to Maria M. Mota - AMI Foundation
2005 Commander Grã-Cruz Ordem do Inf. D. Henrique - Portuguese Presidency
2005 International Research Scholar to Maria M. Mota - Howard Hughes Medical Institute
2004 European Young Investigator Award to Maria M. Mota – European Science Foundation
2003 EMBO Young Investigator Award to Maria M. Mota – EMBO
» Useful Links
Gomes-Santos CS, Braks J, Prudêncio M, Carret C, Gomes AR, Pain A, Feltwell T, Khan S, Waters A, Janse C, Mair GR, Mota MM. 2011. Transition of Plasmodium sporozoites into liver stage-like forms is regulated by the RNA binding protein pumilio. PLoS Pathog. 7(5):e1002046.
Portugal S, Carret C, Recker M, Armitage A, Sullivan D, Roy Cindy, Newbold CJ, Drakesmith H, Mota MM. 2011. Host-mediated control of Malaria Superinfection. Nature Medicine. 17(6):732. (Highlighted in Nature Reviews Microbiology; evaluated in F1000 Biology; Commented in EMBO Mol.Med.)
Epiphanio S, Campos MG, Pamplona A, Carapau D, Pena AC, Ataíde R, Monteiro CA, Félix N, Costa-Silva A, Marinho CR, Dias S, Mota MM. 2010. VEGF promotes malaria-associated acute lung injury in mice. PLoS Pathog. 6(5):e1000916.
Prudêncio M, Rodrigues CD, Hannus M, Martin C, Real E, Gonçalves LA, Carret C, Dorkin R, Röhl I, Jahn-Hoffmann K, Luty AJ, Sauerwein R, Echeverri CJ, Mota MM. 2008. Kinome-wide RNAi screen implicates at least 5 host hepatocyte kinases in Plasmodium sporozoite infection. PLoS Pathog. 4(11):e1000201.
Rodrigues CD, Hannus M, Prudêncio M, Martin C, Gonçalves LA, Portugal S, Epiphanio S, Akinc A, Hadwiger P, Jahn-Hofmann K, Röhl I, van Gemert GJ, Franetich JF, Luty AJF, Sauerwein R, Mazier D, Koteliansky V, Vornlocher HP,5 Echeverri CJ and Mota MM. 2008. Host scavenger receptor SR-BI plays a dual role in the establishment of malaria parasite liver infection. Cell Host & Microbe. 4(3):271-82. (comment in Cell Host & Microbe)
Epiphanio S, Mikolajczak SA, Gonçalves LA, Pamplona A, Portugal S, Albuquerque S, Goldberg M, Rebelo S, Anderson DG, Akinc A, Vornlocher HP, Kappe SH, Soares MP, Mota MM. 2008. Heme oxygenase-1 is an anti-inflammatory host factor that promotes murine plasmodium liver infection. Cell Host & Microbe. 3(5):331-8. (comment in Nature Reviews Microbiology)
Pamplona A, Ferreira A, Balla J, Jeney V, Balla G, Epiphanio S, Chora A, Rodrigues CD, Gregoire IP, Cunha-Rodrigues M, Portugal S, Soares MP, Mota MM. 2007. Heme oxygenase-1 and carbon monoxide suppress the pathogenesis of experimental cerebral malaria. Nature Medicine. 13:703. (comment in Nature Medicine; evaluated in F1000 Biology and F1000 Medicine)
Prudêncio M, Rodriguez A, Mota MM. (2006). The silent path to thousands of merozoites: the Plasmodium liver stage. Nat Rev Microbiol. Nov;4(11):849-56.