Our laboratory studies how worms harvest energy. Parasitic worms —also known as helminths— infect a quarter of the world’s population. Eight of the twenty diseases catalogue by WHO as unattended are caused by helminths, while infections by these organisms in livestock and crops constitute a major economic problem for developing countries.
For these parasites there are no commercial vaccines available and there is an urgent need for new antihelmintics. We seek to identify “Achilles heels” of helminth metabolism. In particular, we study helminth metabolic pathway that harvest energy under hypoxic conditions, such as those found in the gastrointestinal tract of their hosts. We also established whole organism motility bioassays in order to discover new antihelmintics that paralyze worms.
Our laboratory also investigates in selenium biology, an essential micronutrient for most organisms, including mammals. For most of our research we use the C. elegans worm as a model.
Malate dismutation in helminths.
We aim to elucidate aspects of this metabolic pathway that allows parasitic worms to harvest energy under hypoxic conditions, such as those found in the gastrointestinal tract of their hosts.
Thioredoxin and glutathione systems of parasitic flatworms.
These organisms have linked pathways of thioredoxin and glutathione, with thioredoxin glutathione reductase as the sole enzyme serving both pathways. We are currently investigating structural aspects of this enzyme and determinants of redox function and iron-sulfur binding of thioredoxins and glutaredoxins.
Search for new anthelmintics.
Based on a motility test of C. elegans we aim to identify, from libraries of natural and synthetic products, new anthelmintics.
We seek to understand pathways of metabolization and response to the trace element selenium in animals, by direct and reverse genetic approaches using C.elegans as a model organism.
“Redox Chemistry and Biology of Worms”. International Postrgraduate Course. February 18 -27, 2019. Montevideo-Uruguay. Organizers: Beatriz Álvarez, Marcelo Comini, Gustavo Salinas and Madia Trujillo. Funded by: ICGEB, RIIP, UdelaR, PEDECIBA, IP Montevideo.
“Thiols: Key Players in the Redox Regulation of Cellular Functions”. International Symposium. Feb 28-March 1 2019. Montevideo-Uruguay. Organizers: Beatriz Álvarez, Marcelo Comini, Gustavo Salinas and Madia Trujillo. Funded by: ICGEB, RIIP, UdelaR, PEDECIBA, IP Montevideo.
“Robustness in Cell Development”. Conference of Dr. Martin Chalfie, 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. April 16, Institut Pasteur de Montevideo. Organizers: Inés Carrera and Gustavo Salinas.
“Expanding C. elegans research: First Latin American Worm Meeting”. February 22-24, 2017. Organizers: Gustavo Salinas and Inés Carrera. Funded by: ICGEB, FOCEM, PEDECIBA, CSIC, US Embassy, B’nai Brit, Phylumtech and others.
2019-2021– Discovering Selenium Metabolic Pathways. CSIC I+D. UdelaR
2018-2020 – Structural plasticity of the thioredoxin folding of platyhelminths. Responsible: Gustavo Salinas. ANII, Clemente Estable Fund.
2015-2018 – Studies on helminth mitochondrial metabolism: molecular basis of the malate dismutation. Responsible: Gustavo Salinas. ANII, Clemente Estable Fund.
2018-2019 – Analysis of the transcriptome, mitochondrial proteome and exometabolome in the Caenorhabditis elegans nematode under conditions of normoxia and anoxia to elucidate the molecular basis of malate dismutation in helminths. Responsible: Lucía Otero. MEC, Vaz Ferreira Fund.
2015-2018 – The thioredoxin-fold in trypanosomatids and tapeworms. Responsible: Marcelo Comini and Gustavo Salinas ICGEB (Italy)