Welcome to the Schnaufer lab web site

Our lab aims to understand mitochondrial biogenesis, metabolism and RNA processing in trypanosomatid protozoa, which are important parasites of man and livestock, and to utilize that knowledge to inform drug development.

In particular, our studies currently focus on the following three areas:

Mitochondrial function in bloodstream stage trypanosomes


This project is aimed at shedding light on the essential - and currently quite elusive - role that the mitochondrion plays in the disease-causing (bloodstream) stage of trypanosomes. It also aims to identify the adaptations that allow so-called dyskinetoplastic trypanosomes to survive the loss of their mitochondrial genome, the kinetoplast.

Structure / function analysis of the trypanosome RNA editing complex, the editosome


Trypanosome U insertion/deletion editing is a unique form of post-transcriptional mRNA processing. It is catalyzed by a macromolecular complex and of vital importance for the parasites. The goal of this project is to determine the function of the various editosome components, and how their activities are coordinated to ensure precise editing.

RNA editing ligase as a novel drug target in trypanosomes


One of the key components of the editosome is RNA editing ligase 1 (REL1). As a postdoc in Ken Stuart's lab Achim has shown that it is an essential enzyme in the disease-causing stage of Trypanosoma brucei and, in collaboration with Wim Hol's lab at the University of Washington in Seattle, determined its three-dimensional structure. We are now using high throughput biochemical screens as well as in silico methods to identify REL1 inhibitors that can serve as starting points for drug development.

Where we are located


Our lab is part of the Institute of Immunology & Infection Research (IIIR) and located on the ground floor of  the Ashworth 3 building on the King's Building campus (click here for campus maps).

Click here for contact info.