Daniel E. Vélez-Ramírez
Preparing a reaction to produce DNA molecules, which will be introduced into Trypanosoma brucei cells and make them suitable for proximity labeling.
Upper: light microscopy image of a Trypanosoma brucei.
Lower: fluorescence microcopy image of the same cell, highlighting its nucleus (blue), flagellum (green), and flagellum tip (red).

Daniel E. Vélez-Ramírez was awarded a 2017 UC MEXUS-CONACyT Postdoctoral Fellowship to conduct research under the guidance of Professor Kent Hill in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics at UCLA.

As a molecular parasitologist, his research aims to define the proteome of different parts of the trypanosome flagellum -also called cilium- that are critical for motility and signaling functions of these eukaryotic parasites. Trypanosoma brucei is used as a model system that is closely related to Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease, a debilitating and life-threatening neglected tropical disease distributed across Latin America and the southern United States. In order to accomplish this task he has worked with the highly talented members of the Hill Lab, as well as with collaborators from the Department of Biological Chemistry at UCLA, to adapt an in vivo proximity labeling technique for use in trypanosome cells.

The potential applications for this technique are relevant for microbiological and biomedical research. The identification of therapeutic targets, unique to the parasite and different from the human counterparts, holds the greatest promise for an effective cure. In addition, the importance of the trypanosome flagellum goes beyond the microbiology field, since cilium defects cause a variety of inherited human diseases, commonly referred to as ‘ciliopathies’, and T. brucei has emerged as an excellent model system for studying them.

For additional information, Dr. Vélez-Ramírez can be contacted at velezramirez.de@gmail.com.

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