Crystal structure of the malaria circumsporozoite protein aTSR domain in complex with human antibody 1710 (PDB ID: 6B0S).

Scientists have solved 1,000 protein structures using data collected at the Canadian Light Source CMCF beamlines. The Canadian Light Source (CLS) is a national research facility, producing the brightest light in Canada. The Canada Foundation for Innovation, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, National Research Council of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Government of Saskatchewan and the University of Saskatchewan fund the CLS operations, which allows hundreds of scientists from around the world to use the synchrotron every year to conduct health, agricultural, environmental and advanced materials research.

In the past two years, the Julien laboratory at SickKids has solved and deposited 20 protein structures using the Canadian Light Source CMCF beamlines. Structure 6B0S is the one-thousandth protein structure solved at the CLS and is part of Julien’s research program seeking to develop a vaccine that prevents the malaria parasite from causing infections. The World Health Organization reports that nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of contracting malaria, with hundreds of thousands of children dying every year.

The research describing this latest protein structure was published this month in The Journal of Experimental Medicine and informs on the antibody response of volunteers who received a candidate malaria vaccine to evaluate protection in a clinical trial. This article was published concurrently with two other studies from the Julien laboratory this month: one published in Nature Communications that provided structural insights into the development of a malaria transmission blocking vaccine, and another published in Immunity that characterized protective human anti-malarial antibodies induced by natural parasite exposure. All three studies were led by post-doctoral fellow Stephen Scally in the Julien lab.

An interview of Dr. Julien with CBC radio host Shauna Powers discussing the importance of the Canadian Light Source CMCF beamlines as a national resource for crystallographers, and the lab’s recent progress in its malaria research program can be found below.