Professor Theresa HT Coetzer
Professor Coetzer lectures in Biochemistry in the School of Life Sciences and is the Acting Dean of Research for the College of Agriculture, Engineering & Science.
 Position:   Professor and Acting Dean of Research
Qualifications:   PhD
Discipline:   Biochemistry
Campus:   Pietermaritzburg
Telephone:   033 260 5463
Research interests:   My research interest is in proteolytic enzymes of African trypanosomes. African trypanosomiasis is a parasitic disease caused by haemoflagellate protozoa of the genus Trypanosoma that is spread by the bite of the tsetse fly. The human form of the disease, called sleeping sickness, is caused by T. brucei gambiense in eastern and central Africa and by T. brucei rhodesiense in eastern Africa. Livestock, notably cattle and goats, are susceptible to T. congolense and T. vivax that causes nagana and the disease also occurs in northern KwaZulu-Natal and Mozambique. Wildlife do not show any symptoms, but act as reservoirs of the parasite, hence the large scale killing of animals in the 1920s to protect cattle in the area that now constitutes Hluluwe-iMfolozi. As a result of the ability of trypanosomes to continuously change the expression of their variable surface glycoproteins (VSGs), there is no vaccine for trypanosomaisis and resistance has developed against the prophylactic drugs in use for more than 50 years.

We study various cysteine and serine proteases of T. congolense and T. vivax with an aim to develop simple diagnostic tests, new chemotherapeutic agents and a vaccine that could be used in resource poor settings in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to cloning, recombinant expression, purification and enzymatic characterisation of the proteases, RNAi and gene knock-out studies, we produce antibodies in chickens against the whole proteases and against peptides corresponding to epitopes identified in silico. Chicken egg yolk antibodies (IgY) are powerful immunochemical tools that find wide application in research and we have established a number of collaborations around this capacity.
 Recent Publications:   Duncan, RC, Mohlin,F, Taleski, D, Coetzer, THT, Huntington, JA, Payne, RJ, Blom, AM, Pike, RN, and Wijeyewickrema, LC (2012) Identification of a catalytic exosite for complement component C4 on the serine protease domain of C1s, Journal of Immunology 189, 2365-2373.

Bizaaré, L, Coetzer, THT, Downs, CT (2012) Disaccharidase presence and activities in a range of southern African frugivores, Ostrich 83, 165–168

Kateregga, J., Lubega, GW, Lindblad, EB, Authié, E, Coetzer, THT, Boulangé, AFV (2012) Effect of adjuvants on the humoral immune response to congopain in mice and cattle BMC Veterinary Research 2012, 8:63

Kangethe, RT, Boulangé, AFV, Coustou, V, Baltz, T and Coetzer, THT (2012) Trypanosoma brucei brucei oligopeptidase B null mutants display increased prolyl oligopeptidase-like activity. Molecular & Biochemical Parasitology 182, 7-16.

Duncan, RC, Bergström, F, Coetzer, TH, Blom, AM, Wijeyewickrema, LC and Pike, RN (2012) Multiple domains of MASP-2, an initiating complement protease, are required for interaction with its substrate C4, Molecular Immunology 49, 593-600.
 Website:   View Research Gate profile

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