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Sunday, July 7, 2019

Proteomic analysis of extracellular vesicles from a Plasmodium falciparum Kenyan clinical isolate defines a core parasite secretome.

Many pathogens secrete effector molecules to subvert host immune responses, to acquire nutrients, and/or to prepare host cells for invasion. One of the ways that effector molecules are secreted is through extracellular vesicles (EVs) such as exosomes. Recently, the malaria parasite P. falciparum has been shown to produce EVs that can mediate transfer of genetic material between parasites and induce sexual commitment. Characterizing the content of these vesicles may improve our understanding of P. falciparum pathogenesis and virulence.Previous studies of P. falciparum EVs have been limited to long-term adapted laboratory isolates. In this study, we isolated EVs from a Kenyan…

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Sunday, July 7, 2019

Repetitive sequences in malaria parasite proteins.

Five species of parasite cause malaria in humans with the most severe disease caused by Plasmodium falciparum. Many of the proteins encoded in the P. falciparum genome are unusually enriched in repetitive low-complexity sequences containing a limited repertoire of amino acids. These repetitive sequences expand and contract dynamically and are among the most rapidly changing sequences in the genome. The simplest repetitive sequences consist of single amino acid repeats such as poly-asparagine tracts that are found in approximately 25% of P. falciparum proteins. More complex repeats of two or more amino acids are also common in diverse parasite protein families.…

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Sunday, July 7, 2019

A feast of malaria parasite genomes.

The Plasmodium genus has evolved over time and across hosts, complexifying our understanding of malaria. In a recent Nature paper, Rutledge et al. (2017) describe the genome sequences of three major human malaria parasite species, providing insight into Plasmodium evolution and raising the question of how many species there are. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Sunday, July 7, 2019

Genomic dark matter illuminated: Anopheles Y chromosomes.

Hall et al. have strategically used long-read sequencing technology to characterize the structure and highly repetitive content of the Y chromosome in Anopheles malaria mosquitoes. Their work confirms that this important but elusive heterochromatic sex chromosome is evolving extremely rapidly and harbors a remarkably small number of genes. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Sunday, July 7, 2019

Normocyte-binding protein required for human erythrocyte invasion by the zoonotic malaria parasite Plasmodium knowlesi.

The dominant cause of malaria in Malaysia is now Plasmodium knowlesi, a zoonotic parasite of cynomolgus macaque monkeys found throughout South East Asia. Comparative genomic analysis of parasites adapted to in vitro growth in either cynomolgus or human RBCs identified a genomic deletion that includes the gene encoding normocyte-binding protein Xa (NBPXa) in parasites growing in cynomolgus RBCs but not in human RBCs. Experimental deletion of the NBPXa gene in parasites adapted to growth in human RBCs (which retain the ability to grow in cynomolgus RBCs) restricted them to cynomolgus RBCs, demonstrating that this gene is selectively required for parasite…

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Sunday, July 7, 2019

High-quality genome assembly and annotation for Plasmodium coatneyi, generated using single-molecule real-time PacBio technology.

Plasmodium coatneyi is a protozoan parasite species that causes simian malaria and is an excellent model for studying disease caused by the human malaria parasite, P. falciparum Here we report the complete (nontelomeric) genome sequence of P. coatneyi Hackeri generated by the application of only Pacific Biosciences RS II (PacBio RS II) single-molecule real-time (SMRT) high-resolution sequence technology and assembly using the Hierarchical Genome Assembly Process (HGAP). This is the first Plasmodium genome sequence reported to use only PacBio technology. This approach has proven to be superior to short-read only approaches for this species. Copyright © 2016 Chien et al.

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Sunday, July 7, 2019

Expansion of lysine-rich repeats in Plasmodium proteins generates novel localisation sequences that target the periphery of the host erythrocyte.

Repetitive low-complexity sequences, mostly assumed to have no function, are common in proteins that are exported by the malaria parasite into its host erythrocyte. We identify a group of exported proteins containing short lysine-rich tandemly repeated sequences that are sufficient to localise to the erythrocyte periphery where key virulence-related modifications to the plasma membrane and the underlying cytoskeleton are known to occur. Efficiency of targeting is dependent on repeat number, indicating that novel targeting modules could evolve by expansion of short lysine-rich sequences. Indeed, expression GARP fragments from different species shows that two novel targeting sequences have arisen via the…

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Sunday, July 7, 2019

Comparative genomics of Beauveria bassiana: uncovering signatures of virulence against mosquitoes.

Entomopathogenic fungi such as Beauveria bassiana are promising biological agents for control of malaria mosquitoes. Indeed, infection with B. bassiana reduces the lifespan of mosquitoes in the laboratory and in the field. Natural isolates of B. bassiana show up to 10-fold differences in virulence between the most and the least virulent isolate. In this study, we sequenced the genomes of five isolates representing the extremes of low/high virulence and three RNA libraries, and applied a genome comparison approach to uncover genetic mechanisms underpinning virulence.A high-quality, near-complete genome assembly was achieved for the highly virulent isolate Bb8028, which was compared to…

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Sunday, July 7, 2019

De novo mutations resolve disease transmission pathways in clonal malaria

Detecting de novo mutations in viral and bacterial pathogens enables researchers to reconstruct detailed networks of disease transmission and is a key technique in genomic epidemiology. However, these techniques have not yet been applied to the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, in which a larger genome, slower generation times, and a complex life cycle make them difficult to implement. Here, we demonstrate the viability of de novo mutation studies in P. falciparum for the first time. Using a combination of sequencing, library preparation, and genotyping methods that have been optimized for accuracy in low-complexity genomic regions, we have detected de novo…

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