ABSTRACT: Variation of surface adhesins is a critical mediator of virulence and immune evasion in many medically important microbes. Phenotypic switching has been linked to transcriptional changes and the function of chromatin proteins, but the determinants of the rate of phenotypic switching remain poorly defined. We analyzed epigenetic switching of the Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte invasion ligand PfRh4. By introducing a prokaryotic Dam methylase, we demonstrate that parasites selected for in vivo PfRh4 activation show a reversible increase in promoter accessibility while exhibiting perinuclear repositioning of the locus from a silent to a conserved activation domain. Forced activation of a proximal gene results in a similar level of repositioning of the PfRh4 locus into this domain and a concomitant increase in PfRh4 activation in a sub-population of parasites, with promoter accessibility occurring only at actively transcribed loci. Thus, we reveal two distinct epigenetic mechanisms regulating the expression of a malaria virulence gene. To examine the correlation between changes in gene expression induced by treatment with a high dose of trichostatin A (TSA) and the associated changes in chromatin accessibility. Plasmodium falciparum was treated (or not, control) with 100nm or 500nm TSA, and then the expression profiles were analyzed.
Project description:Plasmodium yoelii YM asexual blood stage parasites express multiple members of the py235 gene family, part of the super-family of genes including those coding for Plasmodium vivax reticulocyte binding proteins and Plasmodium falciparum RH proteins. Dr Tony Holder's laboratory (NIMR, London) has been successful in deleting one of the RH family genes (Py01365) by transfection and insertion of the TgDHFR gene, and cloned the resulting parasite in YM background. The gene expression patterns of the mutant parasite line were compared to that of the wild type YM parasite.
Project description:Pyronaridine (PN) and chloroquine (CQ) are structurally related anti-malarial drugs with primarily the same mode of action. However, PN is effective against several multidrug-resistant lines of Plasmodium falciparum, including CQ-resistant lines, suggestive of important operational differences between the two drugs. Synchronized trophozoite-stage cultures of P. falciparum strain K1 (CQ resistant) were exposed to 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50) of PN and CQ, and parasites were harvested from culture after 4 and 24 hours exposure. Global transcriptional changes effected by drug treatment were investigated using DNA microarrays. Plasmodium falciparum in vitro cultures were synchronized to trophozoite stage (22-24h post infection) and exposed to either CQ or PN at IC50 concentrations. 18 sample pairs (drug treated/untreated) were analyzed; 9 for CQ and 9 for PN. All drug-treated samples were labelled with Cy5 and untreated controls were labelled with Cy3.
Project description:The variant antigen, Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1), expressed on the surface of P. falciparum infected Red Blood Cells (iRBCs) is a critical virulence factor for malaria. Each parasite encodes 60 antigenically distinct var genes encoding PfEMP1s, but during infection the clonal parasite population expresses only one gene at a time before switching to the expression of a new variant antigen as an immune evasion mechanism to avoid the host’s antibody responses. The mechanism by which 59 of the 60 var genes are silenced remains largely unknown. We used microarrays to detail the global programme changes of gene expression caused by each gene knockout with a particular view towards which gene knockout results in transcriptional upregulation of the entire var gene family. Plasmodium falciparum clones, in each of which one of different histone lysine methylation modification enzyme genes was knocked out, were synchronized in the asexual stage and collected at indicated time points post invasion of erythrocytes for RNA extraction and hybridization on Affymetrix microarrays. We sought to identify the key epigenetic enzyme that controls silencing of the whole var gene family.
Project description:The malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, exploits multiple ligand-receptor interactions, called invasion pathways, to invade the host erythrocyte. Strains of P.falciparum vary in their dependency on sialated red cell receptors for invasion. We show that switching from sialic acid-dependent to –independent invasion is reversible and depends on parasite ligand utilisation. Expression of P.falciparum reticulocyte-binding like homologue 4 (PfRh4) correlates with sialic acid-independent invasion and PfRh4 is essential for switching invasion pathways. Differential activation of PfRh4 represents a novel mechanism of invasion pathway control and provides P.falciparum with exquisite adaptability in the face of erythrocyte receptor polymorphisms and host immune responses. Keywords: Plasmodium falciparum, erythrocyte invasion, invasion pathways, EBA175, Rh4 Overall design: Experiment contains no replication. There are three genotypes: wildtype W2mef parasites, a cloned variant that can invade via a sialic acid independent pathway, and a parasite in which EBA175 has been knocked out and which also invades via a sialic acid independent pathway.
Project description:Control of malaria is threatened by emerging parasite resistance to artemisinin drug (ART) therapies. The molecular details of how Plasmodium malaria parasites response to ART and how this relates to resistance is not clear. To determine how parasites respond to ART by altering gene expression, we performed a transcriptomic study of dihydroartemisinin (DHA) response in P. falciparum K1 strain and in P. berghei ANKA strain. Microarray data from DHA-treated P. falciparum trophozoite stage parasites were compared with data from other ART treatments. Genes with consistent changes in expression were identified, which includes notably down-regulation of cytosolic ribosomal protein genes. RNA-seq data revealed a similar pattern of transcriptomic change, although the pattern was much clearer in that more than one-third of P. falciparum trophozoite genes are differentially expressed with greater statistical support for down-regulation of ribosomal protein genes. The poor overlap of differentially-expressed genes between microarray and RNA-seq and less-well defined patterns for the former suggests that the accuracy of microarray is limited by technological bias. The trophozoite response to DHA is overall “ring-like” and less “trophozoite-like”, which is consistent with previous findings that Plasmodium can enter a quiescent ring-like state to resist ART. RNA-seq data from DHA-treated P. falciparum rings reveal a more muted response, although there is considerable overlap of differentially expressed genes with DHA-treated trophozoites. In contrast, P. falciparum schizonts are unresponsive to DHA, suggesting that the protective response acts mainly to arrest parasite development through the G2/M checkpoint. The transcriptional response of P. berghei to DHA treatment in vivo in infected mice is strikingly similar to the P. falciparum in vitro ring and trophozoite responses, in which ribosomal protein genes are notably down-regulated. These results suggest Plasmodium species respond to DHA in the same way. This knowledge could be applied to outwit the parasite to deliver more effective artemisinin therapies, and maybe hinder the development of drug resistance. Two condition drug-treatment experiment, Dihydroartemisinin vs. Vehicle control treatment with matched reference untreated controls. Biological replicates: 5 independently grown and harvested experimental culture replicates. One replicate of treatment/reference time-point per array.
Project description:The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum relies on clonally variant gene expression in order to escape immune recognition and secure continuous proliferation during blood stage infection. Here, we studied the role of heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1), an evolutionary conserved regulator of heritable gene silencing, in the biology of P. falciparum blood stage parasites. We demonstrate that conditional PfHP1 depletion de-represses hundreds of heterochromatic virulence genes and disrupts the elusive mechanism underlying mutually exclusive expression and antigenic variation of PfEMP1. Intriguingly, we also discovered that the PfHP1-dependent regulation of an ApiAP2 transcription factor controls the switch from asexual parasite proliferation to sexual differentiation. This uncovers the first mechanistic insight into the unknown pathway triggering gametocyte conversion and establishes a new concept of HP1-dependent cell fate decision in unicellular eukaryotes. P. falciparum 3D7 parasites expressing endogenous PfHP1-GFP-DD were grown in presence of 4nM WR/625nM Shield-1 (3D7/HP1ON) or 4nM WR (3D7/HP1OFF). RNA extracted from these samples at eleven consecutive time points each was processed for microarray analysis.
Project description:Conventional reverse genetic approaches for study of Plasmodium malaria parasite gene function are limited, or not applicable. Hence, new inducible systems are needed. Here we describe a method to control P. falciparum gene expression in which target genes bearing a glmS ribozyme in the 3′ untranslated region (3′-UTR) are efficiently knocked down in transgenic P. falciparum parasites in response to exogenous glucosamine (GlcN) inducer. Using reporter genes, we show that the glmS ribozyme cleaves reporter mRNA in vivo leading to reduction in mRNA expression following GlcN treatment. GlcN-induced ribozyme activation also led to efficient reduction of reporter protein, which could be rapidly reversed by removing the inducer. The glmS ribozyme was validated as a reverse-genetic tool by integration into the essential gene and antifolate drug target dihydrofolate reductase-thymidylate synthase (PfDHFR-TS). GlcN treatment of transgenic parasites led to rapid and efficient knockdown of PfDHFR-TS mRNA and protein. PfDHFR-TS knockdown led to a growth/arrest mutant phenotype and hypersensitivity to pyrimethamine. The glmS ribozyme is thus an important tool for study of P. falciparum essential genes and anti-malarial drug discovery. mRNA profiles were generated from 3D7 wild-type and DHFR-TS-GFP_glmS integrant parasites in untreated and treated with 10 mM Glucosamine conditions in duplicate.
Project description:To help malaria parasites survive unpredictable host immune responses, it is known that genes for surface proteins express stochastically in Plasmodium falciparum. Here, we demonstrate that gene expression for intracellular metabolic functions may be preordained and insensitive to specific metabolic perturbations. In a tightly-controlled, large microarray study involving over 100 hybridizations to isogenic drug-sensitive and drug-resistant parasites, the lethal antifolate WR99210 failed to over-produce RNA for the biochemically and genetically proven target dihydrofolate reductase-thymidylate synthase (DHFR-TS). Beyond the target, this transcriptional obstinacy carried over to the rest of the parasite genome, including genes for target pathways of folate and pyrimidine metabolism. Even 12 hours after commitment to death, the transcriptome remained faithful to evolutionarily entrained paths. A system-wide transcriptional disregard for metabolic perturbations in malaria parasites may contribute to selective vulnerabilities of the parasite to lethal antimetabolites. While large protective metabolic responses were not detected, DNA microarrays helped capture small, but reproducible drug-dependent perturbations within hours of drug exposure. In addition, in Plasmodium cells that had adapted to long-term drug exposure, DNA microarrays revealed new, large genome-wide transcriptional adjustments in the hard-wired transcriptional program itself. Keywords: Plasmodium falciparum treated with pyrimethamine RNA from pyrimethamine-treated parasite vs RNA from untreated control, Pyr-sensitive TM4/8.2 strain, pyrimethamine concentration at IC50 and treated for 0 h and 24 h, microarray data were obtained from at least four hybridizations using RNA from at lease two independent parasite cultures
Project description:To help malaria parasites survive unpredictable host immune responses, it is known that genes for surface proteins express stochastically in Plasmodium falciparum. Here, we demonstrate that gene expression for intracellular metabolic functions may be preordained and insensitive to specific metabolic perturbations. In a tightly-controlled, large microarray study involving over 100 hybridizations to isogenic drug-sensitive and drug-resistant parasites, the lethal antifolate WR99210 failed to over-produce RNA for the biochemically and genetically proven target dihydrofolate reductase-thymidylate synthase (DHFR-TS). Beyond the target, this transcriptional obstinacy carried over to the rest of the parasite genome, including genes for target pathways of folate and pyrimidine metabolism. Even 12 hours after commitment to death, the transcriptome remained faithful to evolutionarily entrained paths. A system-wide transcriptional disregard for metabolic perturbations in malaria parasites may contribute to selective vulnerabilities of the parasite to lethal antimetabolites. While large protective metabolic responses were not detected, DNA microarrays helped capture small, but reproducible drug-dependent perturbations within hours of drug exposure. In addition, in Plasmodium cells that had adapted to long-term drug exposure, DNA microarrays revealed new, large genome-wide transcriptional adjustments in the hard-wired transcriptional program itself. Keywords: Plasmodium falciparum treated with pyrimethamine RNA from pyrimethamine-treated parasite vs RNA from untreated control, Pyr-sensitive TM4/8.2 parasite strain, pyrimethamine concentration at IC50 and treated for 2 h, 4 h, and 8 h, microarray data were obtained from at least four hybridizations using RNA from at least two independent parasite cultures
Project description:For malaria transmission, the parasite must undergo sexual differentiation into mature gametocytes. However, the molecular basis for this critical transition in the parasites life cycle is unknown. Six previously uncharacterized genes, Pfg14.744, Pfg14.745, Pfg14.748, Pfg14.763, Pfg14.752 and Pfg6.6 that are members of a 36 gene Plasmodium falciparum-specific subtelomeric superfamily were found to be expressed in parasites that are committed to sexual development as suggested by co-expression of Pfs16 and Pfg27. Northern blots demonstrated that Pfg14.744 and Pfg14.748 were first expressed before the parasites differentiated into morphologically distinct gametocytes, transcription continued to increase until stage II gametocytes were formed and then rapidly decreased. Immunofluorescence assays indicated that both proteins were only produced in the subpopulation of ring stage parasites that are committed to gametocytogenesis and both localized to the parasitophorous vacuole (PV)b of the early ring stage parasites. As the parasites continued to develop Pfg14.748 remained within the parasitophorous vacuole, while Pfg14.744 was detected in the erythrocyte. The 5' flanking region of either gene alone was sufficient to drive early gametocyte specific expression of green fluorescent protein (GFP). In parasites transfected with a plasmid containing the Pfg14.748 5' flanking region immediately upstream of GFP, fluorescence was observed in a small number of schizonts the cycle before stage I gametocytes were observed. This expression pattern is consistent with commitment to sexual differentiation prior to merozoite release and erythrocyte invasion. Further investigation into the role of these genes in the transition from asexual to sexual differentiation could provide new strategies to block malaria transmission. Microarray analysis was used to compare two clones derived from Plasmodium falciparum strain 3D7 parasites that differ in their ability to undergo gametocytogenesis. Clone G+ produces gametocytes and clone G- produces very few if any gametocytes. RNA was harvested from the cultures when the asexual parasitemia was 0.9-1.48% (day 4) (n=4) after setting up the gametocyte cultures and 5.2-5.58% (day 6) (n=4) prior to the appearance of morphologically distinct gametocytes and used to generate cDNA that was labeled with Cy3 or Cy5 and hybridized to the Plasmodium falciparum 70 mer oligonucleotide microarray developed by DeRisi and co-workers.