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Friday, July 19, 2019

Expanding an expanded genome: long-read sequencing of Trypanosoma cruzi.

Although the genome of Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease, was first made available in 2005, with additional strains reported later, the intrinsic genome complexity of this parasite (the abundance of repetitive sequences and genes organized in tandem) has traditionally hindered high-quality genome assembly and annotation. This also limits diverse types of analyses that require high degrees of precision. Long reads generated by third-generation sequencing technologies are particularly suitable to address the challenges associated with T. cruzi’s genome since they permit direct determination of the full sequence of large clusters of repetitive sequences without collapsing them. This, in…

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Long read assemblies of geographically dispersed Plasmodium falciparum isolates reveal highly structured subtelomeres.

Background: Although thousands of clinical isolates of Plasmodium falciparum are being sequenced and analysed by short read technology, the data do not resolve the highly variable subtelomeric regions of the genomes that contain polymorphic gene families involved in immune evasion and pathogenesis. There is also no current standard definition of the boundaries of these variable subtelomeric regions. Methods: Using long-read sequence data (Pacific Biosciences SMRT technology), we assembled and annotated the genomes of 15 P. falciparum isolates, ten of which are newly cultured clinical isolates. We performed comparative analysis of the entire genome with particular emphasis on the subtelomeric regions…

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Global genetic diversity of var2csa in Plasmodium falciparum with implications for malaria in pregnancy and vaccine development.

Malaria infection during pregnancy, caused by the sequestering of Plasmodium falciparum parasites in the placenta, leads to high infant mortality and maternal morbidity. The parasite-placenta adherence mechanism is mediated by the VAR2CSA protein, a target for natural occurring immunity. Currently, vaccine development is based on its ID1-DBL2Xb domain however little is known about the global genetic diversity of the encoding var2csa gene, which could influence vaccine efficacy. In a comprehensive analysis of the var2csa gene in >2,000?P. falciparum field isolates across 23 countries, we found that var2csa is duplicated in high prevalence (>25%), African and Oceanian populations harbour a much…

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Friday, July 19, 2019

A forward genetic screen reveals a primary role for Plasmodium falciparum Reticulocyte Binding Protein Homologue 2a and 2b in determining alternative erythrocyte invasion pathways.

Invasion of human erythrocytes is essential for Plasmodium falciparum parasite survival and pathogenesis, and is also a complex phenotype. While some later steps in invasion appear to be invariant and essential, the earlier steps of recognition are controlled by a series of redundant, and only partially understood, receptor-ligand interactions. Reverse genetic analysis of laboratory adapted strains has identified multiple genes that when deleted can alter invasion, but how the relative contributions of each gene translate to the phenotypes of clinical isolates is far from clear. We used a forward genetic approach to identify genes responsible for variable erythrocyte invasion by…

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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

Genome sequence of Trypanosoma cruzi strain Bug2148.

Trypanosoma cruzi belongs to the group of mitochondrion-containing eukaryotes and has a highly plastic genome, unusual gene organization, and complex mechanisms for gene expression (polycistronic transcription). We report here the genome sequence of strain Bug2148, the first genomic sequence belonging to cluster TcV, which has been related to vertical transmission. Copyright © 2018 Callejas-Hernández et al.

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Sunday, July 7, 2019

Molecular preadaptation to antimony resistance in Leishmania donovani on the Indian subcontinent.

Antimonials (Sb) were used for decades for chemotherapy of visceral leishmaniasis (VL). Now abandoned in the Indian subcontinent (ISC) because of Leishmania donovani resistance, this drug offers a unique model for understanding drug resistance dynamics. In a previous phylogenomic study, we found two distinct populations of L. donovani: the core group (CG) in the Gangetic plains and ISC1 in the Nepalese highlands. Sb resistance was only encountered within the CG, and a series of potential markers were identified. Here, we analyzed the development of resistance to trivalent antimonials (SbIII) upon experimental selection in ISC1 and CG strains. We observed that (i)…

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