Our main research interest is innate immune recognition and elimination of pathogens. Our work focuses on the interaction between mosquitoes and the animal and human pathogens they transmit. As insects are the most species-rich group of animals on the planet and occupy a vast array of ecological niches, they are a fantastic example of the potentcy of innate defenses.
Rather than passive carriers of malaria, mosquitoes are actually amazing parasite killers. In fact, the vast majority of the parasites ingested when a mosquito bites a malarious person are attacked and eliminated before they can mount an infection. It is the few parasites that survive (even one is sufficient), that are ultimately responsible for disease transmission.
Some of the questions we are addressing:
-What is the basis of pathogen recognition by the mosquito innate immune system and how do some pathogens manage to escape?
-What is the biochemical mechanism leading from innate recognition to pathogen killing?
-How does mosquito physiology interface with innate immune activation?
Arthropod vectors such as mosquitoes, sand flies and ticks are responsible for transmission of a large number of animal and human diseases worldwide. Studying these organisms may reveal general insights about innate immune defense mechanisms as well as provide novel avenues for controlling the terrible diseases they spread.
Midega Janet, Blight Joshua, Lombardo Fabrizio, Povelones Michael, Kafatos Fotis, Christophides George K Discovery and characterization of two Nimrod superfamily members in Anopheles gambiae. Pathogens and global health 107: 463-74, 2013.Povelones Michael, Christophides George K Meeting report of the Mosquito Kolymbari Meeting 2013. Pathogens and global health 107: 393-9, 2013.Povelones Michael, Bhagavatula Lavanya, Yassine Hassan, Tan Lee Aun, Upton Leanna M, Osta Mike A, Christophides George K The CLIP-domain serine protease homolog SPCLIP1 regulates complement recruitment to microbial surfaces in the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae. PLoS pathogens 9: e1003623, 2013.Povelones Michael, Upton Leanna M, Sala Katarzyna A, Christophides George K Structure-function analysis of the Anopheles gambiae LRIM1/APL1C complex and its interaction with complement C3-like protein TEP1. PLoS pathogens 7: e1002023, 2011.Waterhouse Robert M, Povelones Michael, Christophides George K Sequence-structure-function relations of the mosquito leucine-rich repeat immune proteins. BMC genomics 11: 531, 2010.Jaramillo-Gutierrez Giovanna, Rodrigues Janneth, Ndikuyeze Georges, Povelones Michael, Molina-Cruz Alvaro, Barillas-Mury Carolina Mosquito immune responses and compatibility between Plasmodium parasites and anopheline mosquitoes. BMC microbiology 9: 154, 2009.Povelones Michael, Waterhouse Robert M, Kafatos Fotis C, Christophides George K Leucine-rich repeat protein complex activates mosquito complement in defense against Plasmodium parasites. Science (New York, N.Y.) 324: 258-61, 2009.Habtewold Tibebu, Povelones Michael, Blagborough Andrew M, Christophides George K Transmission blocking immunity in the malaria non-vector mosquito Anopheles quadriannulatus species A. PLoS pathogens 4: e1000070, 2008.Chen Wei-Shen, Antic Dragana, Matis Maja, Logan Catriona Y, Povelones Michael, Anderson Graham A, Nusse Roel, Axelrod Jeffrey D Asymmetric homotypic interactions of the atypical cadherin flamingo mediate intercellular polarity signaling. Cell 133: 1093-105, 2008.Povelones Michael, Howes Rob, Fish Matt, Nusse Roel Genetic evidence that Drosophila frizzled controls planar cell polarity and Armadillo signaling by a common mechanism. Genetics 171: 1643-54, 2005.