Entamoeba histolytica

Dr. Petri has a three decade-long research program in amebiasis. This started as a postdoctoral fellow with the identification of the Gal/GalNAc-binding lectin of the protozoal parasite Entamoeba histolytica that mediates contact-dependent killing of host cells. We developed antigen-detection tests for amebiasis that are FDA-approved, and in a 10 year study of 300 children in Bangladesh discovered that amebiasis occurred in nearly every child. Diarrhea, as well as malnutrition and cognitive dysfunction, were consequences of amebiasis. A single amino acid polymorphism in the receptor for leptin, present in nearly half of children, was discovered to control human susceptibility to infection. Most recently, we have identified that the parasite kills human cells via a unique cell biologic process that we have termed “amebic trogocytosis,” and discovered that potassium channels are key participants in death of the host cells

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