Some vaginal bacterial communities are thought to prevent infection by sexually transmitted organisms. Prior work demonstrated that the vaginal microbiota of reproductive-age women cluster into five types of bacterial communities; 4 dominated by Lactobacillus species (L. iners, L. crispatus, L. gasseri, L. jensenii), and one (termed community state type (CST) IV) lacking significant numbers of lactobacilli and characterized by higher proportions of Atopobium, Prevotella, Parvimonas, Sneathia, Gardnerella, Mobiluncus, and other taxa. We sought to evaluate the relationship between vaginal bacterial composition and Trichomonas vaginalis.
Self-collected vaginal swabs were obtained cross-sectionally from 394 women equally representing four ethnic/racial groups. T. vaginalis screening was performed using PCR targeting the 18S rRNA and β-tubulin genes. Vaginal bacterial composition was characterized by pyrosequencing of barcoded 16S rRNA genes. A panel of eleven microsatellite markers was used to genotype T. vaginalis. The association between vaginal microbiota and T. vaginalis was evaluated by exact logistic regression.
T. vaginalis was detected in 2.8% of participants (11/394). Of the eleven T. vaginalis-positive cases, eight (72%) were categorized as CST-IV, two (18%) as communities dominated by L. iners and one (9%) as L. crispatus-dominated (p-value:0.05). CST-IV microbiota were associated with an 8-fold increased odds of detecting T. vaginalis compared to women in the L. crispatus-dominated state (OR:8.26, 95% CI:1.07–372.65). Seven of the 11 T. vaginalis isolates were assigned to two genotypes.
T. vaginalis was associated with vaginal microbiota consisting of low proportions of lactobacilli and high proportions of Mycoplasma, Parvimonas, Sneathia, and other anaerobes.
Trichomonas vaginalis; vaginal microbiota
The evolutionary history and age of Plasmodium vivax has been inferred as both recent and ancient by several studies, mainly using mitochondrial genome diversity. Here we address the age of P. vivax on the Indian subcontinent using selectively neutral housekeeping genes and tandem repeat loci. Analysis of ten housekeeping genes revealed a substantial number of SNPs (n = 75) from 100 P. vivax isolates collected from five geographical regions of India. Neutrality tests showed a majority of the housekeeping genes were selectively neutral, confirming the suitability of housekeeping genes for inferring the evolutionary history of P. vivax. In addition, a genetic differentiation test using housekeeping gene polymorphism data showed a lack of geographical structuring between the five regions of India. The coalescence analysis of the time to the most recent common ancestor estimate yielded an ancient TMRCA (232,228 to 303,030 years) and long-term population history (79,235 to 104,008) of extant P. vivax on the Indian subcontinent. Analysis of 18 tandem repeat loci polymorphisms showed substantial allelic diversity and heterozygosity per locus, and analysis of potential bottlenecks revealed the signature of a stable P. vivax population, further corroborating our ancient age estimates. For the first time we report a comparable evolutionary history of P. vivax inferred by nuclear genetic markers (putative housekeeping genes) to that inferred from mitochondrial genome diversity.
Plasmodium vivax is the most prevalent human malaria parasite outside Africa, responsible for significant morbidity, although it is commonly referred to as a benign malaria agent with respect to P. falciparum. Inferring the evolutionary history of an infectious agent provides important information for designing control measures. In this study, we developed a panel of novel molecular markers including housekeeping genes, minisatellites and microsatellites to infer the evolutionary history of P. vivax on the Indian subcontinent. The panel of markers uncovered an ancient and long evolutionary history and a stable population structure of P. vivax in India.
Recently developed genotyping tools allow better understanding of Trichomonas vaginalis population genetics and epidemiology. These tools have yet to be applied to T vaginalis collected from HIV+ populations, where understanding the interaction between the pathogens is of great importance due to the correlation between T vaginalis infection and HIV transmission. The objectives of the study were twofold: first, to compare the genetic diversity and population structure of T vaginalis collected from HIV+ women with parasites from reference populations; second, to use the genetic markers to perform a case study demonstrating the usefulness of these techniques in investigating the mechanisms of repeat infections.
Repository T vaginalis samples from a previously described treatment trial were genotyped at 11 microsatellite loci. Estimates of genetic diversity and population structure were determined using standard techniques and compared with previously reported estimates of global populations. Genotyping data were used in conjunction with behavioural data to evaluate mechanisms of repeat infections.
T vaginalis from HIV+ women maintain many of the population genetic characteristics of parasites from global reference populations. Although there is evidence of reduced diversity and bias towards type 1 parasites in the HIV+ population, the populations share a two-type population structure and parasite haplotypes. Genotyping/behavioural data suggest that 36% (12/33) of repeat infections in HIV+ women can be attributed to treatment failure.
T vaginalis infecting HIV+ women is not genetically distinct from T vaginalis infecting reference populations. Information from genotyping can be valuable for understanding mechanisms of repeat infections.
The following series of concise summaries addresses the evolution of infectious agents in relation to sex in animals and humans from the perspective of three specific questions: (1) what have we learned about the likely origin and phylogeny, up to the establishment of the infectious agent in the genital econiche, including the relative frequency of its sexual transmission; (2) what further research is needed to provide additional knowledge on some of these evolutionary aspects; and (3) what evolutionary considerations might aid in providing novel approaches to the more practical clinical and public health issues facing us currently and in the future?
evolution; infectious agents; sexual transmission; econiche
We sequenced and annotated the genomes of four Plasmodium vivax strains collected from disparate geographical locations, tripling the number of genome sequences available for this understudied parasite and providing the first genome-wide perspective of global variability within this species. We observe approximately twice as much SNP diversity among these isolates as we do among a comparable collection of isolates of Plasmodium falciparum, a malaria parasite that causes higher mortality. This indicates a distinct history of global colonization and/or a more stable demographic history for P. vivax than P. falciparum, which is thought to have undergone a recent population bottleneck. The SNP diversity, as well as additional microsatellite and gene family variability, suggests the capacity for greater functional variation within the global population of P. vivax. These findings warrant a deeper survey of variation in P. vivax to equip disease interventions targeting the distinctive biology of this neglected but major pathogen.
Malaria is a serious parasitic disease in the developing world, causing high morbidity and mortality. The pathogenesis of malaria is complex, and the clinical presentation of disease ranges from severe and complicated, to mild and uncomplicated, to asymptomatic malaria. Despite a wealth of studies on the clinical severity of disease, asymptomatic malaria infections are still poorly understood. Asymptomatic malaria remains a challenge for malaria control programs as it significantly influences transmission dynamics. A thorough understanding of the interaction between hosts and parasites in the development of different clinical outcomes is required. In this review, the problems and obstacles to the study and control of asymptomatic malaria are discussed. The human and parasite factors associated with differential clinical outcomes are described and the management and treatment strategies for the control of the disease are outlined. Further, the crucial gaps in the knowledge of asymptomatic malaria that should be the focus of future research towards development of more effective malaria control strategies are highlighted.
Asymptomatic malaria; Host factors; Parasite factors; Transmission dynamics
Given the growing appreciation of serious health sequelae from widespread Trichomonas vaginalis infection, new tools are needed to study the parasite's genetic diversity. To this end we have identified and characterized a panel of 21 microsatellites and six single-copy genes from the T. vaginalis genome, using seven laboratory strains of diverse origin. We have (1) adapted our microsatellite typing method to incorporate affordable fluorescent labeling, (2) determined that the microsatellite loci remain stable in parasites continuously cultured up to 17 months, and (3) evaluated microsatellite marker coverage of the six chromosomes that comprise the T. vaginalis genome using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH). We have used the markers to show that T. vaginalis is a genetically diverse parasite in a population of commonly used laboratory strains. In addition, we have used phylogenetic methods to infer evolutionary relationships from our markers in order to validate their utility in future population analyses. Our panel is the first series of robust polymorphic genetic markers for T. vaginalis that can be used to classify and monitor lab strains, as well as provide a means to measure the genetic diversity and population structure of extant and future T. vaginalis isolates.
Population genetics; Trichomonas vaginalis; sexually transmitted infection; microsatellite; FISH; genetic markers
The evolutionary history of human malaria parasites (genus Plasmodium) has long been a subject of speculation and controversy. The complete genome sequences of the two most widespread human malaria parasites, P. falciparum and P. vivax, and of the monkey parasite P. knowlesi are now available, together with the draft genomes of the chimpanzee parasite P. reichenowi, three rodent parasites, P. yoelii yoelli, P. berghei and P. chabaudi chabaudi, and one avian parasite, P. gallinaceum.
We present here an analysis of 45 orthologous gene sequences across the eight species that resolves the relationships of major Plasmodium lineages, and provides the first comprehensive dating of the age of those groups.
Our analyses support the hypothesis that the last common ancestor of P. falciparum and the chimpanzee parasite P. reichenowi occurred around the time of the human-chimpanzee divergence. P. falciparum infections of African apes are most likely derived from humans and not the other way around. On the other hand, P. vivax, split from the monkey parasite P. knowlesi in the much more distant past, during the time that encompasses the separation of the Great Apes and Old World Monkeys.
The results support an ancient association between malaria parasites and their primate hosts, including humans.
Parabasalia are single-celled eukaryotes (protists) that are mainly comprised of endosymbionts of termites and wood roaches, intestinal commensals, human or veterinary parasites, and free-living species. Phylogenetic comparisons of parabasalids are typically based upon morphological characters and 18S ribosomal RNA gene sequence data (rDNA), while biochemical or molecular studies of parabasalids are limited to a few axenically cultivable parasites. These previous analyses and other studies based on PCR amplification of duplicated protein-coding genes are unable to fully resolve the evolutionary relationships of parabasalids. As a result, genetic studies of Parabasalia lag behind other organisms.
Comparing parabasalid EF1α, α-tubulin, enolase and MDH protein-coding genes with information from the Trichomonas vaginalis genome reveals difficulty in resolving the history of species or isolates apart from duplicated genes. A conserved single-copy gene encodes the largest subunit of RNA polymerase II (Rpb1) in T. vaginalis and other eukaryotes. Here we directly sequenced Rpb1 degenerate PCR products from 10 parabasalid genera, including several T. vaginalis isolates and avian isolates, and compared these data by phylogenetic analyses. Rpb1 genes from parabasalids, diplomonads, Parabodo, Diplonema and Percolomonas were all intronless, unlike intron-rich homologs in Naegleria, Jakoba and Malawimonas.
The phylogeny of Rpb1 from parasitic and free-living parabasalids, and conserved Rpb1 insertions, support Trichomonadea, Tritrichomonadea, and Hypotrichomonadea as monophyletic groups. These results are consistent with prior analyses of rDNA and GAPDH sequences and ultrastructural data. The Rpb1 phylogenetic tree also resolves species- and isolate-level relationships. These findings, together with the relative ease of Rpb1 isolation, make it an attractive tool for evaluating more extensive relationships within Parabasalia.
Genetic crosses have been employed to study various traits of rodent malaria parasites and to locate loci that contribute to drug resistance, immune protection, and disease virulence. Compared with human malaria parasites, genetic crossing of rodent malaria parasites is more easily performed; however, genotyping methods using microsatellites (MS) or large-scale single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that have been widely used in typing Plasmodium falciparum are not available for rodent malaria species. Here we report a genome-wide search of the Plasmodium yoelii yoelii (P. yoelii) genome for simple sequence repeats (SSRs) and the identification of nearly 600 polymorphic microsatellite (MS) markers for typing the genomes of P. yoelii and Plasmodium berghei. The MS markers are randomly distributed across the 14 physical chromosomes assembled from genome sequences of three rodent malaria species, although some variations in the numbers of MS expected according to chromosome size exist. The majority of the MS markers are AT-rich repeats, similar to those found in the P. falciparum genome. The MS markers provide an important resource for genotyping, lay a foundation for developing linkage maps, and will greatly facilitate genetic studies of P. yoelii.
Rodent malaria parasite; Simple sequence repeat (SSR); Genetic markers; Genotyping; MS
Up to 40% of the world's population is at risk for Plasmodium vivax malaria, a disease that imposes a major public health and economic burden on endemic countries. Because P. vivax produces latent liver forms, eradication of P. vivax malaria is more challenging than it is for P. falciparum. Genetic analysis of P. vivax is exceptionally difficult due to limitations of in vitro culture. To overcome the barriers to traditional molecular biology in P. vivax, we examined parasite transcriptional changes in samples from infected patients and mosquitoes in order to characterize gene function, define regulatory sequences and reveal new potential vaccine candidate genes.
We observed dramatic changes in transcript levels for various genes at different lifecycle stages, indicating that development is partially regulated through modulation of mRNA levels. Our data show that genes involved in common biological processes or molecular machinery are co-expressed. We identified DNA sequence motifs upstream of co-expressed genes that are conserved across Plasmodium species that are likely binding sites of proteins that regulate stage-specific transcription. Despite their capacity to form hypnozoites we found that P. vivax sporozoites show stage-specific expression of the same genes needed for hepatocyte invasion and liver stage development in other Plasmodium species. We show that many of the predicted exported proteins and members of multigene families show highly coordinated transcription as well.
We conclude that high-quality gene expression data can be readily obtained directly from patient samples and that many of the same uncharacterized genes that are upregulated in different P. vivax lifecycle stages are also upregulated in similar stages in other Plasmodium species. We also provide numerous examples of how systems biology is a powerful method for determining the likely function of genes in pathogens that are neglected due to experimental intractability.
Most of the 250 million malaria cases outside of Africa are caused by the parasite Plasmodium vivax. Although drugs can be used to treat P. vivax malaria, drug resistance is spreading and there is no available vaccine. Because this species cannot be readily grown in the laboratory there are added challenges to understanding the function of the many hypothetical genes in the genome. We isolated transcriptional messages from parasites growing in human blood and in mosquitoes, labeled the messages and measured how their levels for different parasite growth conditions. The data for 5,419 parasite genes shows extensive changes as the parasite moves between human and mosquito and reveals highly expressed genes whose proteins might represent new therapeutic targets for experimental vaccines. We discover sets of genes that are likely to play a role in the earliest stages of hepatocyte infection. We find intriguing differences in the expression patterns of different blood stage parasites that may be related to host-response status.
The human malaria parasite Plasmodium vivax is responsible for 25-40% of the ~515 million annual cases of malaria worldwide. Although seldom fatal, the parasite elicits severe and incapacitating clinical symptoms and often relapses months after a primary infection has cleared. Despite its importance as a major human pathogen, P. vivax is little studied because it cannot be propagated in the laboratory except in non-human primates. We determined the genome sequence of P. vivax in order to shed light on its distinctive biologic features, and as a means to drive development of new drugs and vaccines. Here we describe the synteny and isochore structure of P. vivax chromosomes, and show that the parasite resembles other malaria parasites in gene content and metabolic potential, but possesses novel gene families and potential alternate invasion pathways not recognized previously. Completion of the P. vivax genome provides the scientific community with a valuable resource that can be used to advance scientific investigation into this neglected species.
The availability of complete genomic sequences for hundreds of organisms promises to make obtaining genome-wide estimates of substitution rates, selective constraints and other molecular evolution variables of interest an increasingly important approach to addressing broad evolutionary questions. Two of the programs most widely used for this purpose are codeml and baseml, parts of the PAML (Phylogenetic Analysis by Maximum Likelihood) suite. A significant drawback of these programs is their lack of a graphical user interface, which can limit their user base and considerably reduce their efficiency.
We have developed IDEA (Interactive Display for Evolutionary Analyses), an intuitive graphical input and output interface which interacts with PHYLIP for phylogeny reconstruction and with codeml and baseml for molecular evolution analyses. IDEA's graphical input and visualization interfaces eliminate the need to edit and parse text input and output files, reducing the likelihood of errors and improving processing time. Further, its interactive output display gives the user immediate access to results. Finally, IDEA can process data in parallel on a local machine or computing grid, allowing genome-wide analyses to be completed quickly.
IDEA provides a graphical user interface that allows the user to follow a codeml or baseml analysis from parameter input through to the exploration of results. Novel options streamline the analysis process, and post-analysis visualization of phylogenies, evolutionary rates and selective constraint along protein sequences simplifies the interpretation of results. The integration of these functions into a single tool eliminates the need for lengthy data handling and parsing, significantly expediting access to global patterns in the data.
GiardiaDB (http://GiardiaDB.org) and TrichDB (http://TrichDB.org) house the genome databases for Giardia lamblia and Trichomonas vaginalis, respectively, and represent the latest additions to the EuPathDB (http://EuPathDB.org) family of functional genomic databases. GiardiaDB and TrichDB employ the same framework as other EuPathDB sites (CryptoDB, PlasmoDB and ToxoDB), supporting fully integrated and searchable databases. Genomic-scale data available via these resources may be queried based on BLAST searches, annotation keywords and gene ID searches, GO terms, sequence motifs and other protein characteristics. Functional queries may also be formulated, based on transcript and protein expression data from a variety of platforms. Phylogenetic relationships may also be interrogated. The ability to combine the results from independent queries, and to store queries and query results for future use facilitates complex, genome-wide mining of functional genomic data.
Plasmodium vivax in southern Mexico exhibits different infectivities to 2 local mosquito vectors, Anopheles pseudopunctipennis and Anopheles albimanus. Previous work has tied these differences in mosquito infectivity to variation in the central repeat motif of the malaria parasite's circumsporozoite (csp) gene, but subsequent studies have questioned this view. Here we present evidence that P. vivax in southern Mexico comprised 3 genetic populations whose distributions largely mirror those of the 2 mosquito vectors. Additionally, laboratory colony feeding experiments indicate that parasite populations are most compatible with sympatric mosquito species. Our results suggest that reciprocal selection between malaria parasites and mosquito vectors has led to local adaptation of the parasite. Adaptation to local vectors may play an important role in generating population structure in Plasmodium. A better understanding of coevolutionary dynamics between sympatric mosquitoes and parasites will facilitate the identification of molecular mechanisms relevant to disease transmission in nature and provide crucial information for malaria control.
malaria; Plasmodium vivax; microsatellites; coevolution
Mariner transposable elements encoding a D,D34D motif-bearing transposase are characterized by their pervasiveness among, and exclusivity to, animal phyla. To date several hundred sequences have been obtained from taxa ranging from cnidarians to humans, only two of which are known to be functional. Related transposons have been identified in plants and fungi, but their absence among protists is noticeable. Here, we identify and characterize Tvmar1, the first representative of the mariner family to be found in a species of protist, the human parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. This is the first D,D34D element to be found outside the animal kingdom, and its inclusion in the mariner family is supported by both structural and phylogenetic analyses. Remarkably, Tvmar1 has all the hallmarks of a functional element, and has recently expanded to several hundred copies in the genome of T. vaginalis. Our results show that a new potentially active mariner has been found, which belongs to a distinct mariner lineage, and has successfully invaded a non-animal, single-celled organism. The considerable genetic distance between Tvmar1 and other mariners may have valuable implications for the design of new, high-efficiency vectors to be used in transfection studies in protists.
transposon; mariner; protist; parabasilid; Trichomonas; vaginalis
We describe the genome sequence of the protist Trichomonas vaginalis, a sexually transmitted human pathogen. Repeats and transposable elements comprise about two-thirds of the ~160-megabase genome, reflecting a recent massive expansion of genetic material. This expansion, in conjunction with the shaping of metabolic pathways that likely transpired through lateral gene transfer from bacteria, and amplification of specific gene families implicated in pathogenesis and phagocytosis of host proteins may exemplify adaptations of the parasite during its transition to a urogenital environment. The genome sequence predicts previously unknown functions for the hydrogenosome, which support a common evolutionary origin of this unusual organelle with mitochondria.
A new software was used to predict exported proteins that are conserved between malaria parasites infecting rodents and those infecting humans, revealing a lineage-specific expansion of exported proteins.
The apicomplexan parasite Plasmodium falciparum causes the most severe form of malaria in humans. After invasion into erythrocytes, asexual parasite stages drastically alter their host cell and export remodeling and virulence proteins. Previously, we have reported identification and functional analysis of a short motif necessary for export of proteins out of the parasite and into the red blood cell.
We have developed software for the prediction of exported proteins in the genus Plasmodium, and identified exported proteins conserved between malaria parasites infecting rodents and the two major causes of human malaria, P. falciparum and P. vivax. This conserved 'exportome' is confined to a few subtelomeric chromosomal regions in P. falciparum and the synteny of these and surrounding regions is conserved in P. vivax. We have identified a novel gene family PHIST (for Plasmodium helical interspersed subtelomeric family) that shares a unique domain with 72 paralogs in P. falciparum and 39 in P. vivax; however, there is only one member in each of the three species studied from the P. berghei lineage.
These data suggest radiation of genes encoding remodeling and virulence factors from a small number of loci in a common Plasmodium ancestor, and imply a closer phylogenetic relationship between the P. vivax and P. falciparum lineages than previously believed. The presence of a conserved 'exportome' in the genus Plasmodium has important implications for our understanding of both common mechanisms and species-specific differences in host-parasite interactions, and may be crucial in developing novel antimalarial drugs to this infectious disease.
Whole-genome comparisons are highly informative regarding genome evolution and can reveal the conservation of genome organization and gene content, gene regulatory elements, and presence of species-specific genes. Initial comparative genome analyses of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum and rodent malaria parasites (RMPs) revealed a core set of 4,500 Plasmodium orthologs located in the highly syntenic central regions of the chromosomes that sharply defined the boundaries of the variable subtelomeric regions. We used composite RMP contigs, based on partial DNA sequences of three RMPs, to generate a whole-genome synteny map of P. falciparum and the RMPs. The core regions of the 14 chromosomes of P. falciparum and the RMPs are organized in 36 synteny blocks, representing groups of genes that have been stably inherited since these malaria species diverged, but whose relative organization has altered as a result of a predicted minimum of 15 recombination events. P. falciparum-specific genes and gene families are found in the variable subtelomeric regions (575 genes), at synteny breakpoints (42 genes), and as intrasyntenic indels (126 genes). Of the 168 non-subtelomeric P. falciparum genes, including two newly discovered gene families, 68% are predicted to be exported to the surface of the blood stage parasite or infected erythrocyte. Chromosomal rearrangements are implicated in the generation and dispersal of P. falciparum-specific gene families, including one encoding receptor-associated protein kinases. The data show that both synteny breakpoints and intrasyntenic indels can be foci for species-specific genes with a predicted role in host-parasite interactions and suggest that, besides rearrangements in the subtelomeric regions, chromosomal rearrangements may also be involved in the generation of species-specific gene families. A majority of these genes are expressed in blood stages, suggesting that the vertebrate host exerts a greater selective pressure than the mosquito vector, resulting in the acquisition of diversity.
Malaria, caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum, is one of the most devastating infectious diseases. Rodent malaria parasites (RMPs), such as P. berghei, P. chabaudi, and P. yoelii, are used as models for P. falciparum. For the use of these models in studies of human disease, insight into both the similarities and differences in the genomics and biology of these parasites is important. The availability of significant but partial genome data of the RMPs enabled the construction of a virtual composite RMP genome and its comparison with the P. falciparum genome, generating a so-called synteny map. Analysis of this map provided the desired comparative insights. A high level of conservation exists between roughly 85% of the genes at the level of content and order, but 168 P. falciparum-specific genes that disrupted the conserved genome segments were identified. The majority of these genes were predicted to play a role in host–parasite interactions. This study indicates that determination of the synteny breakpoints may help to rapidly identify the species-specific gene content of future Plasmodium genomes, providing the malaria research community with a powerful investigative tool. The findings may also be of interest to those studying chromosomal evolution.
We describe a novel approach for identifying target antigens for preerythrocytic malaria vaccines. Our strategy is to rapidly test hundreds of DNA vaccines encoding exons from the Plasmodium yoelii yoelii genomic sequence. In this antigen identification method, we measure reduction in parasite burden in the liver after sporozoite challenge in mice. Orthologs of protective P. y. yoelii genes can then be identified in the genomic databases of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax and investigated as candidate antigens for a human vaccine. A pilot study to develop the antigen identification method approach used 192 P. y. yoelii exons from genes expressed during the sporozoite stage of the life cycle. A total of 182 (94%) exons were successfully cloned into a DNA immunization vector with the Gateway cloning technology. To assess immunization strategies, mice were vaccinated with 19 of the new DNA plasmids in addition to the well-characterized protective plasmid encoding P. y. yoelii circumsporozoite protein. Single plasmid immunization by gene gun identified a novel vaccine target antigen which decreased liver parasite burden by 95% and which has orthologs in P. vivax and P. knowlesi but not P. falciparum. Intramuscular injection of DNA plasmids produced a different pattern of protective responses from those seen with gene gun immunization. Intramuscular immunization with plasmid pools could reduce liver parasite burden in mice despite the fact that none of the plasmids was protective when given individually. We conclude that high-throughput cloning of exons into DNA vaccines and their screening is feasible and can rapidly identify new malaria vaccine candidate antigens.
The genetic determinants of resistance to mefloquine in malaria parasites are unclear. Some studies have implied that amplification of, or mutations in, the multidrug resistance gene pfmdr1 in Plasmodium falciparum may be involved. Using the rodent malaria model Plasmodium chabaudi, we investigated the role of the orthologue of this gene, pcmdr1, in a stable mefloquine-resistant mutant, AS(15MF/3), selected from a sensitive clone. pcmdr1 exists as a single copy gene on chromosome 12 of the sensitive clone. In AS(15MF/3), the gene was found to have undergone duplication, with one copy translocating to chromosome 4. mRNA levels of pcmdr1 were higher in the mutant than in the parent sensitive clone. A partial genetic map of the translocation showed that other genes in addition to pcmdr1 had been cotranslocated. The sequences of both copies of pcmdr1 of AS(15MF/3) were identical to that of the parent sensitive clone. A cross was made between AS(15MF/3) and an unrelated mefloquine-sensitive clone, AJ. Phenotypic and molecular analysis of progeny clones showed that duplication and overexpression of the pcmdr1 gene was an important determinant of resistance. However, not all mefloquine-resistant progeny contained the duplicated gene, showing that at least one other gene was involved in resistance.
Plasmodium cynomolgi, a malaria parasite of Asian Old World monkeys, is the sister taxon of Plasmodium vivax, the most prevalent human malaria species outside Africa. Since P. cynomolgi shares many phenotypic, biologic and genetic characteristics of P. vivax, we generated draft genome sequences of three P. cynomolgi strains and performed comparative genomic analysis between them and P. vivax, as well as a third previously sequenced simian parasite, Plasmodium knowlesi. Here we show that genomes of the monkey malaria clade can be characterized by CNVs in multigene families involved in evasion of the human immune system and invasion of host erythrocytes. We identify genome-wide SNPs, microsatellites, and CNVs in the P. cynomolgi genome, providing a map of genetic variation for mapping parasite traits and studying parasite populations. The P. cynomolgi genome is a critical step in developing a model system for P. vivax research, and to counteract the neglect of P. vivax.
Microsatellite markers derived from simple sequence repeats have been useful in studying a number of human pathogens, including the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Genetic markers for P. vivax would likewise help elucidate the genetics and population characteristics of this other important human malaria parasite. We have identified a locus in a P. vivax telomeric clone that contains simple sequence repeats. Primers were designed to amplify this region using a two-step semi-nested polymerase chain reaction protocol. The primers did not amplify template obtained from non-infected individuals, nor DNA from primates infected with the other human malaria parasites (P. ovale, P. malariae, or P. falciparum). The marker was polymorphic in P. vivax-infected field isolates obtained from Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Guyana. This microsatellite marker may be useful in genetic and epidemiologic studies of P. vivax malaria.