During the break, another paper where I played a part came out and now is it on the cover of the January edition of Nature Medicine:
Host-cell sensors for Plasmodium activate innate immunity against liver-stage infection by Liehl et al., in Nature Medicine 20, 47-53 (2014) [DOI]
Plasmodium, the malaria causing parasite, when entering the human body, first infects the liver. There, the small number of initial parasites (perhaps only a handful of them), multiply until they burst into the blood stream where they cause havoc, which can have potentially fatal consequences if left untreated.
The liver stage is clinically silent, with no visible symptoms. However, it does not go completely undetected by the host’s immune system. There were previous reports of an immune response in the liver, but we worked on understanding more of what was going on and observed a type-I interferon response using transcriptomics.
What I thought was most surprising (although this may be a function of my naïveté) was that the response seems to be activated by RNA sensing. The host detects the Plasmodium RNA and that triggers an immune response. This is some bad ass immune system stuff: using RNA sensors against eukariotic parasites instead of just viruses.
Nature Medicine thought this was cool too and wrote up summary as well as putting the paper on the cover of January edition!
This excellent work must be credited to Peter Liehl and Maria Mota (the first and last authors). I am just happy that I got to play a role in this enterprise and learn some cool biology.