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Scientists reveal molecular secrets of the malaria parasite

rative analysis of the two draft genomes with those of the first rodent malaria parasite to be sequenced, Plasmodium yoelii. The first author of the paper is Hall, a TIGR Assistant Investigator who did most of his work on this project while in his previous position as a bioinformatics scientist at Sanger. He was also the first author of the 2002 study —led by scientists at TIGR, Sanger, and Stanford University —that presented the complete genome of Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest human malarial parasite. Hall says the Science paper is important because: * The study takes an "evolutionary approach" to exploring how the Plasmodium genome has evolved. By comparing four sequenced genomes (the human malaria P. falciparum and the rodent malarias P. yoelii, P. chabaudi and P. berghei), the scientists found that the major differences between the malarial species are found in the virulence factors (which are at the chromosome ends) while the "housekeeping" genes are almost totally unchanged. * Researchers showed that the parasite genes evolve most rapidly when they are expressed in the mammal hosts (human/mouse). That may represent a mechanism by the parasites to repulse the attack of the host's immune system. * For the first time, scientists were able to study the protein expression of the parasite in the mosquito vector. Researchers hope this will shed light on how the mosquito and parasite interact, and perhaps will lead to new ways of controlling the parasite in the vector. * Hall and scientists in Leiden identified evidence of an unusual method of gene regulation (called post transcriptional regulation) at the transition between the vertebrate host and the mosquito. That motif regulates proteins that are switched on as the parasite enters the mosquito. Hall's group identified the gene regulation by comparing the genes expressed in the sexual stage transcriptome with the proteomes of both the sexual stage and a developmental stage in the mosquito. Several genes were
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Source:Eurekalert


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