Genomics and integrated systems biology in Plasmodium falciparum: a path to malaria control and eradication.
ABSTRACT The first draft of the human malaria parasite's genome was released in 2002. Since then, the malaria scientific community has witnessed a steady embrace of new and powerful functional genomic studies. Over the years, these approaches have slowly revolutionized malaria research and enabled the comprehensive, unbiased investigation of various aspects of the parasite's biology. These genome-wide analyses delivered a refined annotation of the parasite's genome, delivered a better knowledge of its RNA, proteins and metabolite derivatives, and fostered the discovery of new vaccine and drug targets. Despite the positive impacts of these genomic studies, most research and investment still focus on protein targets, drugs and vaccine candidates that were known before the publication of the parasite genome sequence. However, recent access to next-generation sequencing technologies, along with an increased number of genome-wide applications, is expanding the impact of the parasite genome on biomedical research, contributing to a paradigm shift in research activities that may possibly lead to new optimized diagnosis and treatments. This review provides an update of Plasmodium falciparum genome sequences and an overview of the rapid development of genomics and system biology applications that have an immense potential of creating powerful tools for a successful malaria eradication campaign.
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ABSTRACT: In eukaryotic cells, chromatin reorganizes within promoters of active genes to allow the transcription machinery and various transcription factors to access DNA. In this model, promoter-specific transcription factors bind DNA to initiate the production of mRNA in a tightly regulated manner. In the case of the human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, specific transcription factors are apparently underrepresented with regards to the size of the genome, and mechanisms underlying transcriptional regulation are controversial. Here, we investigate the modulation of DNA accessibility by chromatin remodeling during the parasite infection cycle. We have generated genome-wide maps of nucleosome occupancy across the parasite erythrocytic cycle using two complementary assays--the formaldehyde-assisted isolation of regulatory elements to extract protein-free DNA (FAIRE) and the MNase-mediated purification of mononucleosomes to extract histone-bound DNA (MAINE), both techniques being coupled to high-throughput sequencing. We show that chromatin architecture undergoes drastic upheavals throughout the parasite's cycle, contrasting with targeted chromatin reorganization usually observed in eukaryotes. Chromatin loosens after the invasion of the red blood cell and then repacks prior to the next cycle. Changes in nucleosome occupancy within promoter regions follow this genome-wide pattern, with a few exceptions such as the var genes involved in virulence and genes expressed at early stages of the cycle. We postulate that chromatin structure and nucleosome turnover control massive transcription during the erythrocytic cycle. Our results demonstrate that the processes driving gene expression in Plasmodium challenge the classical eukaryotic model of transcriptional regulation occurring mostly at the transcription initiation level.Genome Research 02/2010; 20(2):228-38. · 13.61 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: A complete description of the serological response following exposure of humans to complex pathogens is lacking and approaches suitable for accomplishing this are limited. Here we report, using malaria as a model, a method which elucidates the profile of antibodies that develop after natural or experimental infection or after vaccination with attenuated organisms, and which identifies immunoreactive antigens of interest for vaccine development or other applications. Expression vectors encoding 250 Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) proteins were generated by PCR/recombination cloning; the proteins were individually expressed with >90% efficiency in Escherichia coli cell-free in vitro transcription and translation reactions, and printed directly without purification onto microarray slides. The protein microarrays were probed with human sera from one of four groups which differed in immune status: sterile immunity or no immunity against experimental challenge following vaccination with radiation-attenuated Pf sporozoites, partial immunity acquired by natural exposure, and no previous exposure to Pf. Overall, 72 highly reactive Pf antigens were identified. Proteomic features associated with immunoreactivity were identified. Importantly, antibody profiles were distinct for each donor group. Information obtained from such analyses will facilitate identifying antigens for vaccine development, dissecting the molecular basis of immunity, monitoring the outcome of whole-organism vaccine trials, and identifying immune correlates of protection.Proteomics 10/2008; 8(22):4680-94. · 4.43 Impact Factor
Article: The essential histone variant H2A.Z regulates the equilibrium between different chromatin conformational states.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Explaining the determinants involved in regulating the equilibrium between different chromatin structural states is fundamental to understanding differential gene expression. Histone variant H2A.Z is essential to chromatin architecture in higher eukaryotes but its role has not yet been explained. We show here that H2A.Z facilitates the intramolecular folding of nucleosomal arrays while simultaneously inhibiting the formation of highly condensed structures that result from intermolecular association. This makes a case for H2A.Z playing a fundamental role in creating unique chromatin domains poised for transcriptional activation. These results provide new insights into understanding how chromatin fiber dynamics can be altered by core histone variants to potentially regulate genomic function.Natural Structural Biology 04/2002; 9(3):172-6.