[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Background
Rodent malaria parasites (RMP) are used extensively as models of human malaria. Draft RMP genomes have been published for Plasmodium yoelii, P. berghei ANKA (PbA) and P. chabaudi AS (PcAS). Although availability of these genomes made a significant impact on recent malaria research, these genomes were highly fragmented and were annotated with little manual curation. The fragmented nature of the genomes has hampered genome wide analysis of Plasmodium gene regulation and function.ResultsWe have greatly improved the genome assemblies of PbA and PcAS, newly sequenced the virulent parasite P. yoelii YM genome, sequenced additional RMP isolates/lines and have characterized genotypic diversity within RMP species. We have produced RNA-seq data and utilized it to improve gene-model prediction and to provide quantitative, genome-wide, data on gene expression. Comparison of the RMP genomes with the genome of the human malaria parasite P. falciparum and RNA-seq mapping permitted gene annotation at base-pair resolution. Full-length chromosomal annotation permitted a comprehensive classification of all subtelomeric multigene families including the `Plasmodium interspersed repeat genes¿ (pir). Phylogenetic classification of the pir family, combined with pir expression patterns, indicates functional diversification within this family.Conclusions
Complete RMP genomes, RNA-seq and genotypic diversity data are excellent and important resources for gene-function and post-genomic analyses and to better interrogate Plasmodium biology. Genotypic diversity between P. chabaudi isolates makes this species an excellent parasite to study genotype-phenotype relationships. The improved classification of multigene families will enhance studies on the role of (variant) exported proteins in virulence and immune evasion/modulation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Plasmodium falciparum causes most human malaria deaths, having prehistorically evolved from parasites of African Great Apes. Here we explore the genomic basis of P. falciparum adaptation to human hosts by fully sequencing the genome of the closely related chimpanzee parasite species P. reichenowi, and obtaining partial sequence data from a more distantly related chimpanzee parasite (P. gaboni). The close relationship between P. reichenowi and P. falciparum is emphasized by almost complete conservation of genomic synteny, but against this strikingly conserved background we observe major differences at loci involved in erythrocyte invasion. The organization of most virulence-associated multigene families, including the hypervariable var genes, is broadly conserved, but P. falciparum has a smaller subset of rif and stevor genes whose products are expressed on the infected erythrocyte surface. Genome-wide analysis identifies other loci under recent positive selection, but a limited number of changes at the host-parasite interface may have mediated host switching.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: GeneDB (http://www.genedb.org) is a genome database for prokaryotic and eukaryotic pathogens and closely related organisms. The resource provides a portal
to genome sequence and annotation data, which is primarily generated by the Pathogen Genomics group at the Wellcome Trust
Sanger Institute. It combines data from completed and ongoing genome projects with curated annotation, which is readily accessible
from a web based resource. The development of the database in recent years has focused on providing database-driven annotation
tools and pipelines, as well as catering for increasingly frequent assembly updates. The website has been significantly redesigned
to take advantage of current web technologies, and improve usability. The current release stores 41 data sets, of which 17
are manually curated and maintained by biologists, who review and incorporate data from the scientific literature, as well
as other sources. GeneDB is primarily a production and annotation database for the genomes of predominantly pathogenic organisms.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · Nucleic Acids Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: The pir genes comprise the largest multi-gene family in Plasmodium, with members found in P. vivax, P. knowlesi and the rodent malaria species. Despite comprising up to 5% of the genome, little is known about the functions of the proteins encoded by pir genes. P. chabaudi causes chronic infection in mice, which may be due to antigenic variation. In this model, pir genes are called cirs and may be involved in this mechanism, allowing evasion of host immune responses. In order to fully understand the role(s) of CIR proteins during P. chabaudi infection, a detailed characterization of the cir gene family was required.
The cir repertoire was annotated and a detailed bioinformatic characterization of the encoded CIR proteins was performed. Two major sub-families were identified, which have been named A and B. Members of each sub-family displayed different amino acid motifs, and were thus predicted to have undergone functional divergence. In addition, the expression of the entire cir repertoire was analyzed via RNA sequencing and microarray. Up to 40% of the cir gene repertoire was expressed in the parasite population during infection, and dominant cir transcripts could be identified. In addition, some differences were observed in the pattern of expression between the cir subgroups at the peak of P. chabaudi infection. Finally, specific cir genes were expressed at different time points during asexual blood stages.
In conclusion, the large number of cir genes and their expression throughout the intraerythrocytic cycle of development indicates that CIR proteins are likely to be important for parasite survival. In particular, the detection of dominant cir transcripts at the peak of P. chabaudi infection supports the idea that CIR proteins are expressed, and could perform important functions in the biology of this parasite. Further application of the methodologies described here may allow the elucidation of CIR sub-family A and B protein functions, including their contribution to antigenic variation and immune evasion.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Although eukaryotic protein kinases (ePKs) contribute to many cellular processes, only three Plasmodium falciparum ePKs have thus far been identified as essential for parasite asexual blood stage development. To identify pathways essential for parasite transmission between their mammalian host and mosquito vector, we undertook a systematic functional analysis of ePKs in the genetically tractable rodent parasite Plasmodium berghei. Modeling domain signatures of conventional ePKs identified 66 putative Plasmodium ePKs. Kinomes are highly conserved between Plasmodium species. Using reverse genetics, we show that 23 ePKs are redundant for asexual erythrocytic parasite development in mice. Phenotyping mutants at four life cycle stages in Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes revealed functional clusters of kinases required for sexual development and sporogony. Roles for a putative SR protein kinase (SRPK) in microgamete formation, a conserved regulator of clathrin uncoating (GAK) in ookinete formation, and a likely regulator of energy metabolism (SNF1/KIN) in sporozoite development were identified.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: BamView is an interactive Java application for visualizing the large amounts of data stored for sequence reads which are aligned against a reference genome sequence. It supports the BAM (Binary Alignment/Map) format. It can be used in a number of contexts including SNP calling and structural annotation. BamView has also been integrated into Artemis so that the reads can be viewed in the context of the nucleotide sequence and genomic features.
Availability: BamView and Artemis are freely available (under a GPL licence) for download (for MacOSX, UNIX and Windows) at: http://bamview.sourceforge.net/