Faculty of Biological Sciences

Dr Glenn McConkey

BSc, Michigan; PhD 1987, State University of New York, Stony Brook
Senior Lecturer
School of Biology

Background: Glenn McConkey graduated with majors in both Biochemistry and Microbiology and Public Health from Michigan State University and received a Ph.D. in Animal Cellular and Developmental Biology studying gene regulation in the African clawed toad, Xenopus. He was awarded a National Research Council fellowship for postdoctoral research at the National Institutes of Health, USA. Glenn moved to Britain in 1996 to take up a lectureship in Animal Biology and Ecology and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2004. His research focuses on interactions of metabolism in host-parasite relationships and impact on host behaviour. He established a malaria drug discovery programme with interdisciplinary collaborators in the Biomedical and Health Research Centre, serves as Deputy Director of the Antimicrobial Research Centre, and member of the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology and Africa College. His recent work on parasite metabolism and animal behaviour has far-reaching implications on ecosystem structure.

Contact:  Miall 8.23 | +44(0) 113 34 32908 | email address for  

Research Interests

Host-parasite interactions and effects on ecosystems at the genomic level.

cat and mouse

(Image from The Economist, 3 June 2010)

I am interested in symbiotic relationships and its effects on ecosystem interactions and effects on biodiversity. We study how parasites interact with their animal hosts at the molecular level. Our studies focus on a family of single-celled, intracellular protozoan parasites named Apicomplexa that include malaria parasites and the zoonotic parasite Toxoplasma. With 1/3 of the population (principally in tropical areas) at risk of malaria and Toxoplasma infection in >20% of the population globally, it is important to understand their interactions with humans and animals and find new treatments. Of particular interest is the effect of Toxoplasma infection on host behaviour.

Systems biology analysis of host-parasite metabolic networks in ecosystems

In collaboration with Professor David Westhead, we have developed software, named metaTIGER, for analysis of eukaryotic genomes and mapping biochemical pathway networks and phylogenetic dendograms of enzymes to assess their origins,meta tiger logo freely available at www.bioinformatics.leeds.ac.uk/metatiger/, as well as Plasmodium-specific software, PlasmoPredict, openly available at www.bioinformatics.leeds.ac.uk/%7ebio5pmrt/PlasmoPredict/PlasmoPredict.html , for protein identification based on multiple genomics datasets. This provides systems analysis of host-parasite interactions at the genomic level.

Antiparasite drug discovery

An essential enzyme from our network analysis of the human and malaria parasite Plasmodium was validated and is now the target for inhibitor design in an interdisciplinary project with crystallographers and chemists.

Neurotransmitters, behaviour manipulation, and ecosystem structure

Cyst on brainOur biochemical network analysis suggests a direct link between behaviour changes in animals infected with Toxoplasma and neurotransmission. Latent infection with Toxoplasma causes a ‘fatal feline attraction’ in infected rodents, originally described by my collaborator Professor Joanne Webster, that increases the likelihood of predation for completion of the parasite’s life cycle. Our finding genomic evidence that this neurotropic parasite can directly alter host behaviour provides the most conclusive example of Darwinian ‘Extended Phenotype’. Neurological effects in human populations, as accidental hosts, has important implications with a large percentage of the population latently infected.

 

Faculty Research and Innovation


Studentship information

Postgraduate studentship areas:

  • Bioinformatics and genome analysis to model parasite metabolism for drug evaluation, target identification, and defining host-parasite interactions (EPSRC)
  • Parasite drug target and inhibitor discovery by rational design (BHRC)
  • How a brain parasite alters animal host behaviour and implication on neurological disorders (SMRI, DMT, Royal Soc, YAS)

See also:

Admin roles

Faculty International Director
Faculty International Lead
FBS Faculty Board
FBS GTSEC
FBS Internationalisation Committee: North America/Central America Specialist
FBS Student Recruitment Committee

Modules managed

BIOL5249M - Host-Parasite Interactions
BLGY2137 - Parasitology
BLGY2201 - Introduction to Bioinformatics

Modules taught

BIOC3111/12/13/BIOL3112/MICR3120/BIOL5246M - ATU 19 - Immune evasion
BIOL3112 - Adv Topics for Biol Sciences 1
BIOL5249M - Host-Parasite Interactions
BIOL5271M - Research Planning and Scientific Communication
BIOL5292M - Bioscience MSc Research Proj
BIOL5294M - MSc Bioscience Res Project Pro
BLGY1115 - Introduction to Cell Biology
BLGY1303 - Tutorials: Biology & Genetics
BLGY2100 - Enhanced Study Skills for Biologists
BLGY2137 - Parasitology
BLGY2201 - Introduction to Bioinformatics
BLGY3021 - Research Project
BLGY3291 - Comparative Genomics
BLGY3340 - Biology Research Projects
BLGY3398 - Research Project and manuscript
MICR2221 - Medical Immunology

Committees

Member of Graduate School Taught Student Education Committee

Centre membership: The Antimicrobial Research Centre

Group Leader Dr Glenn McConkey  (Senior Lecturer)

Host-parasite interactions and effects on ecosystems at the genomic level. 


Postgraduates

Noha Affan  
Mohammad Alsaad  
Isra Alsaady  
Majidah Hamid-Adiamoh  
Ellen Tedford  
Francis Isidore Totanes  

Mageed SN; Cunningham F; Hung AW; Silvestre HL; Wen S; Blundell TL; Abell C; McConkey GA Pantothenic acid biosynthesis in the parasite Toxoplasma gondii: a target for chemotherapy. Antimicrob Agents Chemother -, 2014
DOI:10.1128/AAC.02640-14
View abstract

McConkey GA; Martin HL; Bristow GC; Webster JP Toxoplasma gondii infection and behaviour - location, location, location? J Exp Biol 216 113-119, 2013
DOI:10.1242/jeb.074153
View abstract

Webster JP; Kaushik M; Bristow GC; McConkey GA Toxoplasma gondii infection, from predation to schizophrenia: Can animal behaviour help us understand human behaviour? Journal of Experimental Biology 216 99-112, 2013
DOI:10.1242/jeb.074716
View abstract

Bedingfield PT; Cowen D; Acklam P; Cunningham F; Parsons MR; McConkey GA; Fishwick CW; Johnson AP Factors influencing the specificity of inhibitor binding to the human and malaria parasite dihydroorotate dehydrogenases. J Med Chem 55 5841-5850, 2012
DOI:10.1021/jm300157n
View abstract

Fritzson I; Bedingfield PTP; Sundin AP; McConkey G; Nilsson UJ N-Substituted salicylamides as selective malaria parasite dihydroorotate dehydrogenase inhibitors MEDCHEMCOMM 2 895-898, 2011
DOI:10.1039/c1md00118c

Prandovszky E; Gaskell E; Martin H; Dubey JP; Webster JP; McConkey GA The neurotropic parasite Toxoplasma gondii increases dopamine metabolism. PLoS One 6 e23866-, 2011
DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0023866
View abstract

Tedder PMR; Bradford JR; Needham CJ; McConkey GA; Bulpitt AJ; Westhead DR Gene function prediction using semantic similarity clustering and enrichment analysis in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum BIOINFORMATICS 26 2431-2437, 2010
DOI:10.1093/bioinformatics/btq450

Forth T; McConkey GA; Westhead DR MetNetMaker: a free and open-source tool for the creation of novel metabolic networks in SBML format BIOINFORMATICS 26 2352-2353, 2010
DOI:10.1093/bioinformatics/btq425

Webster JP; McConkey GA Toxoplasma gondii-altered host behaviour: clues as to mechanism of action FOLIA PARASIT 57 95-104, 2010

Tedder PMR; Bradford JR; McConkey GA; Bulpitt AJ; Westhead DR PlasmoPredict: a gene function prediction website for Plasmodium falciparum TRENDS PARASITOL 26 107-110, 2010
DOI:10.1016/j.pt.2009.12.004

Cowen D; Bedingfield P; McConkey GA; Fishwick CWG; Johnson AP A study of the effects of substituents on the selectivity of the binding of N-arylaminomethylene malonate inhibitors to DHODH BIOORG MED CHEM LETT 20 1284-1287, 2010
DOI:10.1016/j.bmcl.2009.11.079

Whitaker JW; Westhead DR; McConkey GA Alio intuitu: the automated reconstruction of the metabolic networks of parasites TRENDS PARASITOL 25 396-397, 2009
DOI:10.1016/j.pt.2009.06.001

Whitaker JW; McConkey GA; Westhead DR Prediction of horizontal gene transfers in eukaryotes: approaches and challenges BIOCHEMICAL SOCIETY TRANSACTIONS 37 792-795, 2009
DOI:10.1042/BST0370792

Davies M; Heikkila T; McConkey GA; Fishwick CWG; Parsons MR; Johnson AP Structure-Based Design, Synthesis, and Characterization of Inhibitors of Human and Plasmodium falciparum Dihydroorotate Dehydrogenases J MED CHEM 52 2683-2693, 2009
DOI:10.1021/jm800963t

Wambua L; Mcconkey G; Westhead DR Discovery of Novel Drug Targets Against Pathogenic Protozoa: The Promise of Metabolic Reconstruction INFECT GENET EVOL 9 375-375, 2009

Gaskell EA; Smith JE; Pinney JW; Westhead DR; McConkey GA A Unique Dual Activity Amino Acid Hydroxylase in Toxoplasma gondii PLOS ONE 4 -, 2009
DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0004801

Whitaker JW; McConkey GA; Westhead DR The transferome of metabolic genes explored: analysis of the horizontal transfer of enzyme encoding genes in unicellular eukaryotes. Genome Biol 10 R36-, 2009
DOI:10.1186/gb-2009-10-4-r36
View abstract

Whitaker JW; Letunic I; McConkey GA; Westhead DR metaTIGER: a metabolic evolution resource NUCLEIC ACIDS RES 37 D531-D538, 2009
DOI:10.1093/nar/gkn826

Pinney JW; Papp B; Hyland C; Warnbua L; Westhead DR; McConkey GA Metabolic reconstruction and analysis for parasite genomes TRENDS PARASITOL 23 548-554, 2007
DOI:10.1016/j.pt.2007.08.013

Espinosa S; McConkey GA; Heikkila T; Vlaar CP Synthesis of cyclic disulfides as possible antimalarial agents ABSTR PAP AM CHEM S 233 653-653, 2007

Heikkila T; Ramsey C; Davies M; Galtier C; Stead AMW; Johnson AP; Fishwick CWG; Boa AN; McConkey GA Design and synthesis of potent inhibitors of the malaria parasite dihydroorotate dehydrogenase J MED CHEM 50 186-191, 2007
DOI:10.1021/jm060687j

Baldwin SA; McConkey GA; Cass CE; Young JD Nucleoside transport as a potential target for chemotherapy in malaria CURR PHARM DESIGN 13 569-580, 2007

Rathjen T; Nicol C; McConkey G; Dalmay T Analysis of short RNAs in the malaria parasite and its red blood cell host FEBS LETT 580 5185-5188, 2006
DOI:10.1016/j.febslet.2006.08.063

Hyland C; Pinney JW; McConkey GA; Westhead DR metaSHARK: a WWW platform for interactive exploration of metabolic networks NUCLEIC ACIDS RES 34 W725-W728, 2006
DOI:10.1093/nar/gkl196

Heikkila T; Thirumalairajan S; Davies M; Parsons MR; McConkey AG; Fishwick CWG; Johnson AP The first de novo designed inhibitors of Plasmodium falciparum dihydroorotate dehydrogenase BIOORG MED CHEM LETT 16 88-92, 2006
DOI:10.1016/j.bmcl.2005.09.045

McRobert L; Jiang S; Stead A; McConkey GA Plasmodium falciparum: interaction of shikimate analogues with antimalarial drugs. Exp Parasitol 111 178-181, 2005
DOI:10.1016/j.exppara.2005.07.002
View abstract

Boa AN; Canavan SP; Hirst PR; Ramsey C; Stead AM; McConkey GA Synthesis of brequinar analogue inhibitors of malaria parasite dihydroorotate dehydrogenase. Bioorg Med Chem 13 1945-1967, 2005
DOI:10.1016/j.bmc.2005.01.017
View abstract

Pinney JW; Shirley MW; McConkey GA; Westhead DR metaSHARK: software for automated metabolic network prediction from DNA sequence and its application to the genomes of Plasmodium falciparum and Eimeria tenella NUCLEIC ACIDS RES 33 1399-1409, 2005
DOI:10.1093/nar/gki285

Grim KC; McCutchan T; Li J; Sullivan M; Graczyk TK; McConkey G; Cranfield M Preliminary results of an anticircumsporozoite DNA vaccine trial for protection against avian malaria in captive African black-footed penguins (Spheniscus demersus) J ZOO WILDLIFE MED 35 154-161, 2004

McConkey GA; Pinney JW; Westhead DR; Plueckhahn K; Fitzpatrick TB; Macheroux P; Kappes B Annotating the Plasmodium genome and the enigma of the shikimate pathway TRENDS PARASITOL 20 60-65, 2004
DOI:10.1016/j.pt.2003.11.001

Bruning-Richardson A; McConkey GA RNAi in the Malaria Parasite Plasmodium In Gene Silencing by RNA Interferences: Technology and Applications , 2004

Pinney JW; Westhead DR; McConkey GA Petri Net representations in systems biology BIOCHEMICAL SOCIETY TRANSACTIONS 31 1513-1515, 2003

McRobert L; McConkey GA RNA interference (RNAi) inhibits growth of Plasmodium falciparum. Mol Biochem Parasitol 119 273-278, 2002
View abstract

Parker MD; Hyde RJ; Yao SY; McRobert L; Cass CE; Young JD; McConkey GA; Baldwin SA Identification of a nucleoside/nucleobase transporter from Plasmodium falciparum, a novel target for anti-malarial chemotherapy. Biochem J 349 67-75, 2000
View abstract

Heal KG; McConkey GA; Hormaeche CE; Hollingdale MR; Khan CMA; Taylor-Robinson AW Expression of TetC fusion proteins from Salmonella in a gaseous environment that models conditions pound in mammalian tissues BIOTECHNIQUES 28 228-+, 2000

McConkey GA Plasmodium falciparum: isolation and characterisation of a gene encoding protozoan GMP synthase. Exp Parasitol 94 23-32, 2000
DOI:10.1006/expr.1999.4467
View abstract

van Spaendonk RM; McConkey GA; Ramesar J; Gabrielian A; McCutchan TF; Janse CJ; Waters AP Identification of the transcription initiation site of the asexually expressed rRNA genes of the malaria parasite Plasmodium berghei. Mol Biochem Parasitol 99 193-205, 1999
View abstract

McConkey GA Targeting the shikimate pathway in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 43 175-177, 1999
View abstract

McConkey GA; Rogers MJ; McCutchan TF Inhibition of Plasmodium falciparum protein synthesis. Targeting the plastid-like organelle with thiostrepton. J Biol Chem 272 2046-2049, 1997
View abstract

McConkey GA; Li J; Rogers MJ; Seeley DC; Graczyk TK; Cranfield MR; McCutchan TF Parasite diversity in an endemic region for avian malaria and identification of a parasite causing penguin mortality. J Eukaryot Microbiol 43 393-399, 1996
View abstract

Rogers MJ; Gutell RR; Damberger SH; Li J; McConkey GA; Waters AP; McCutchan TF Structural features of the large subunit rRNA expressed in Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites that distinguish it from the asexually expressed subunit rRNA. RNA 2 134-145, 1996
View abstract

Rogers MJ; McConkey GA; Li J; McCutchan TF The ribosomal DNA loci in Plasmodium falciparum accumulate mutations independently. J Mol Biol 254 881-891, 1995
View abstract

Li J; Wirtz RA; McConkey GA; Sattabongkot J; Waters AP; Rogers MJ; McCutchan TF Plasmodium: genus-conserved primers for species identification and quantitation. Exp Parasitol 81 182-190, 1995
DOI:10.1006/expr.1995.1107
View abstract

McCutchan TF; Li J; McConkey GA; Rogers MJ; Waters AP The cytoplasmic ribosomal RNAs of Plasmodium spp. Parasitol Today 11 134-138, 1995
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van Dijk MR; McConkey GA; Vinkenoog R; Waters AP; Janse CJ Mechanisms of pyrimethamine resistance in two different strains of Plasmodium berghei. Mol Biochem Parasitol 68 167-171, 1994

Li J; Wirtz RA; McConkey GA; Sattabongkot J; McCutchan TF Transition of Plasmodium vivax ribosome types corresponds to sporozoite differentiation in the mosquito. Mol Biochem Parasitol 65 283-289, 1994
View abstract

Li J; McConkey GA; Rogers MJ; Waters AP; McCutchan TR Plasmodium: the developmentally regulated ribosome. Exp Parasitol 78 437-441, 1994
DOI:10.1006/expr.1994.1051

McConkey GA; Ittarat I; Meshnick SR; McCutchan TF Auxotrophs of Plasmodium falciparum dependent on p-aminobenzoic acid for growth. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 91 4244-4248, 1994
View abstract

McConkey GA; Waters AP; McCutchan TF The generation of genetic diversity in malaria parasites. Annu Rev Microbiol 44 479-498, 1990
DOI:10.1146/annurev.mi.44.100190.002403
View abstract

McConkey GA; Bogenhagen DF TFIIIA binds with equal affinity to somatic and major oocyte 5S RNA genes. Genes Dev 2 205-214, 1988
View abstract

McConkey GA; Bogenhagen DF Transition mutations within the Xenopus borealis somatic 5S RNA gene can have independent effects on transcription and TFIIIA binding. Mol Cell Biol 7 486-494, 1987
View abstract

McConkey GA Not just for the birds Trends in Parasitology 21 308-309,