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Department of Pathology



I have a PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Cambridge (Christ's College m. 2007) and the Wellcome Sanger Institute. During my graduate studies I investigated changes in gene expression of the parasite Schistosoma mansoni in the invasion of its human host. Back in 2007-2011, I pioneered the use of next generation sequencing technologies and related bioinformatics to the annotation of genes and quantification of gene expression. I later moved to investigating the role of microRNAs in parasite development. My current interests are in the non-coding genome and most particularly on transposable elements. 


Transposable elements (TEs) are mobile genetic entities that exist in almost all genomes. They constitute almost 50% of the human genome and have a life cycle very similar to that of viruses, with the exception that they rarely exit the cell. Instead, TEs replicate and insert themselves in the genome, potentially disrupting the normal function of the cell. Because of their self-replicating capacity TEs are often considered invaders and even parasites of the “host” genome.

I am interested in investigating the mechanisms by which the ‘host genome’ controls the activity of these TEs. This can be imagined as a sort of arms race, where TEs and the host genome fight for the genomic space. My work involves using computational biology tools (bioinformatics) to integrate data from genomes, next generation sequencing, RNA biology and more with the aim of understanding how these mechanisms have evolved in species of parasitic flatworms of clinical and veterinary importance.

Alongside others in the department, I help to organise the Dept of Pathology Bioinformatics Journal Club. Please get in touch if interested in participating.   



Key publications: 

Evidence for transposable element control by Argonautes in a parasitic flatworm lacking the piRNA pathway.
Protasio AV, Rawlinson KA, Miska EA, Berriman M, Rinaldi G.

MiR-277/4989 regulate transcriptional landscape during juvenile to adult transition in the parasitic helminth Schistosoma mansoni.
Protasio AV, van Dongen S, Collins J, Quintais L, Ribeiro DM, Sessler F, Hunt M, Rinaldi G, Collins JJ, Enright AJ, Berriman M.
PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2017 May 23;11(5):e0005559. PMID: 28542189.

Comparative study of transcriptome profiles of mechanical- and skin-transformed Schistosoma mansoni schistosomula
Protasio AV*, Dunne DW, Berriman M.
PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2013;7(3):e2091. PMID:22253936.

A Systematically Improved high quality genome and transcriptome of the human blood fluke Schistosoma mansoni
Protasio AV*, Tsai IJ*, Babbage A, De Silva N, Davidson C, et al. (* joint first authors)
PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2012 Jan;6(1):e1455. PMID:22253936.

Full list of publications in Google Scholar.

Research Group Leader in Computational Biology
Division of Microbiology and Parasitology
Dr Anna V. Protasio

Contact Details

Tennis Court Road
01223 333328 / 33332
Not available for consultancy