James Morris

James MorrisProfessor

Email: jmorri2@clemson.edu
Website:  Morris Lab

Ph.D., Cellular Biology, University of Georgia, 1997
M.S., Entomology, University of Georgia, 1992
B.S., Biology, The College of William and Mary, 1990

Parasites that have developmental stages in distinct hosts encounter remarkably different environments during their lifecycles. For example, parasite members of the family Trypanosomatidae, including the African and American trypanosomes and Leishmainia spp., have required lifecycle stages in both insect vector and mammalian host. These parasites have evolved distinct mechanisms to avoid eradication by the host immune system. In common, however, is the requirement that these parasites must be able to identify the host in which they reside and respond accordingly. The African trypanosome, Trypanosoma brucei, responds to changes in environmental glucose availability to regulate developmental progression. While in the mammalian blood, the parasite is bathed in glucose at a nearly constant concentration (~5 mM). Shortly after ingestion by a feeding tsetse fly, the blood sugar is depleted, triggering a developmental program in the parasite. While glucose sensing is not unique to T. brucei (pancreatic cells respond to blood glucose levels by the release of insulin in order to maintain homeostasis in mammals), the parasites have evolved the means to “sense” dramatic changes in the environment (from mammal to insect). Our group is interested in elucidating the molecular mechanisms employed by the African trypanosome to detect glucose availability, with a particular focus on identifying unique components for targeting for therapeutics. Rationale: The parasitic members of the family Trypanosomatidae infect ~32 million people worldwide. The lack of effective therapies for these maladies emphasizes the need for the identification of new targets for drug development. Our research focuses on identifying for the development of therapies the mechanisms that the African trypanosome uses to “sense” its environment and make developmental decisions.

Recent Publications:

  1. Tillery, L, Barret, K, Goldstein, J, Lassner JW, Osterhout, B, Tran, NL, Xu, L, Young, r, Craig, IC, Dranow, DM, Abendroth, J, Delker, SL, Davies, DR, Mayclin, SJ, Calhoun, B, Bolejack, MJ, Staker, B, Subramanian, S, Phan, IQ, Lorimer, DD, Myler, PJ, Edwards, TE, Kyle, DE, Rice, CA, Morris, JC, Leahy, JW, Manetsch, R, Barrett, LK, Van Voorhis, W. Naegleria fowleri:  protein structures to facilitate drug discovery for the deadly, pathogenic free-living amoeba.    doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.10.20.327296 (Accepted, PLoS ONE)
  2. Khalifa, M, Di Genova, M, McAlpine, S, Rozema, S, Monaghan, N, Morris, J, Knoll, L, Golden, J. Dual stage picolinic acid derived inhibitors of Toxoplasma gondii (Accepted, ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters).
  3. Phan, IQ, Rice, CA, Craig, J, Noorai, RE, McDonald, J, Subramanian, S, Tillery, L, Barrett, LK, Shnkar, V, Morris, JC, Van Voorhis, WC, Kyle, DE, Myler, PJ. The transcriptome of Balamuthia mandrillaris trophozoites for structure-based drug design. bioRxiv. doi: https;//doi.org/10.1101/2020.06.29.178905
  4. Srivastava, S, Darling, J, Suryadi, J, Morris, J, Drew, M, Subramaniam, S. Plasmodium vivax and human hexokinases share similar active sites but display distinct quaternary architectures. (2020) IUCrJ, 7, 453-461.
  5. Voyton, C, Choi, J., Qiu, Y., Ackroyd, CP, Morris, MT, Morris, JC, Christensen, KA. A microfluidic-based microscopy platform for continuous interrogation of Trypanosoma brucei during environmental perturbation. (2019) Biochemistry, 58, 875-882.
  6. Milanes, JE, Suryadi, J, Abendroth, J, Van Voorhis, WC, Barrett, KF, Dranow, DM, Phan, IQ, Patrick, SL, Rozema, SD, Khalifa, MM, Golden, JE, Morris, JC. Enzymatic and structural characterization of the Naegleria fowleri (2019) Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 63, e02410-18; DOI: 10.1128/AAC.2410-18. 
  7. Qiu, Y, Milanes, JE, Jones, JA, Noorai, RE, Shankar, V, Morris, JC. Glucose signaling is important for nutrient adaptation during differentiation of pleomorphic African trypanosomes, (2018) mSphere https://doi.org/10.1128/mSphere.00366-18  (Commentary by Dr. Christine Clayton, mSphere 10:1128/mSphere.00533-18.)
  8. Qiu, Y, Shankar, V, Noorai, RE, Yeung, N, McAlpine, SG, Morris, JC. Identification of a post-transcriptional regulatory element that responds to glucose in the African trypanosome, (Posted) https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/05/21/327346
  9. Voyton, C, Morris, MT, Ackroyd, CP, Morris, JC, Christensen, KA. A FRET flow cytometry-based high throughput screening assay to identify disrupters of glucose levels in Trypanosoma brucei. (2018) ACS Infectious Diseases, 4 (7), 1058-1066.
  10. Voyton, C, Qiu, Y, Morris, MT, Ackroyd, CP, Suryadi, J, Crowe, L, Morris, JC, Christensen, KA. A FRET flow cytometry method for monitoring cytosolic and glycosomal glucose in living kinetoplastid parasites, (2018) PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 12, doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0006523.