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1.  Small RNA pyrosequencing in the protozoan parasite Entamoeba histolytica reveals strain-specific small RNAs that target virulence genes 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:53.
Small RNA mediated gene silencing is a well-conserved regulatory pathway. In the parasite Entamoeba histolytica an endogenous RNAi pathway exists, however, the depth and diversity of the small RNA population remains unknown.
To characterize the small RNA population that associates with E. histolytica Argonaute-2 (EhAGO2-2), we immunoprecipitated small RNAs that associate with it and performed one full pyrosequencing run. Data analysis revealed new features of the 27nt small RNAs including the 5′-G predominance, distinct small RNA distribution patterns on protein coding genes, small RNAs mapping to both introns and exon-exon junctions, and small RNA targeted genes that are clustered particularly in sections of genome duplication. Characterization of genomic loci to which both sense and antisense small RNAs mapped showed that both sets of small RNAs have 5′-polyphosphate termini; strand-specific RT-PCR detected transcripts in both directions at these loci suggesting that both transcripts may serve as template for small RNA generation. In order to determine whether small RNA abundance patterns account for strain-specific gene expression profiles of E. histolytica virulent and non-virulent strains, we sequenced small RNAs from a non-virulent strain and found that small RNAs mapped to genes in a manner consistent with their regulation of strain-specific virulence genes.
We provided a full spectrum analysis for E. histolytica AGO2-2 associated 27nt small RNAs. Additionally, comparative analysis of small RNA populations from virulent and non-virulent amebic strains indicates that small RNA populations may regulate virulence genes.
PMCID: PMC3610107  PMID: 23347563
5′-Polyphosphate small RNA; Argonaute; High-throughput pyrosequencing; Parasite
2.  RNA interference in Entamoeba histolytica: implications for parasite biology and gene silencing 
Future microbiology  2011;6(1):103-117.
Entamoeba histolytica is a major health threat to people in developing countries, where it causes invasive diarrhea and liver abscesses. The study of this important human pathogen has been hindered by a lack of tools for genetic manipulation. Recently, a number of genetic approaches based on variations of the RNAi method have been successfully developed and cloning of endogenous small-interfering RNAs from E. histolytica revealed an abundant population of small RNAs with an unusual 5′-polyphosphate structure. However, little is known about the implications of these findings to amebic biology or the mechanisms of gene silencing in this organism. In this article we review the literature relevant to RNAi in E. histolytica, discuss its implications for advances in gene silencing in this organism and outline potential future directions towards understanding the repertoire of RNAi and its impact on the biology of this deep-branching eukaryotic parasite.
PMCID: PMC3038252  PMID: 21162639
Entamoeba; gene silencing; RNAi; secondary siRNA; siRNA
3.  Short hairpin RNA-mediated knockdown of protein expression in Entamoeba histolytica 
BMC Microbiology  2009;9:38.
Entamoeba histolytica is an intestinal protozoan parasite of humans. The genome has been sequenced, but the study of individual gene products has been hampered by the lack of the ability to generate gene knockouts. We chose to test the use of RNA interference to knock down gene expression in Entamoeba histolytica.
An episomal vector-based system, using the E. histolytica U6 promoter to drive expression of 29-basepair short hairpin RNAs, was developed to target protein-encoding genes in E. histolytica. The short hairpin RNAs successfully knocked down protein levels of all three unrelated genes tested with this system: Igl, the intermediate subunit of the galactose- and N-acetyl-D-galactosamine-inhibitable lectin; the transcription factor URE3-BP; and the membrane binding protein EhC2A. Igl levels were reduced by 72%, URE3-BP by 89%, and EhC2A by 97%.
Use of the U6 promoter to drive expression of 29-basepair short hairpin RNAs is effective at knocking down protein expression for unrelated genes in Entamoeba histolytica, providing a useful tool for the study of this parasite.
PMCID: PMC2652455  PMID: 19222852
4.  Small RNAs with 5′-Polyphosphate Termini Associate with a Piwi-Related Protein and Regulate Gene Expression in the Single-Celled Eukaryote Entamoeba histolytica 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(11):e1000219.
Small interfering RNAs regulate gene expression in diverse biological processes, including heterochromatin formation and DNA elimination, developmental regulation, and cell differentiation. In the single-celled eukaryote Entamoeba histolytica, we have identified a population of small RNAs of 27 nt size that (i) have 5′-polyphosphate termini, (ii) map antisense to genes, and (iii) associate with an E. histolytica Piwi-related protein. Whole genome microarray expression analysis revealed that essentially all genes to which antisense small RNAs map were not expressed under trophozoite conditions, the parasite stage from which the small RNAs were cloned. However, a number of these genes were expressed in other E. histolytica strains with an inverse correlation between small RNA and gene expression level, suggesting that these small RNAs mediate silencing of the cognate gene. Overall, our results demonstrate that E. histolytica has an abundant 27 nt small RNA population, with features similar to secondary siRNAs from C. elegans, and which appear to regulate gene expression. These data indicate that a silencing pathway mediated by 5′-polyphosphate siRNAs extends to single-celled eukaryotic organisms.
Author Summary
Regulation of gene expression can occur via multiple conserved pathways. One such mechanism is mediated by RNA molecules of about 21–24 nucleotides (called small RNAs), which can affect rates of RNA degradation or protein production. These small RNA molecules regulate diverse biological processes in a broad range of systems. The vast majority of the published literature about these molecules is from multi-cellular organisms. We have made a number of novel observations with respect to small RNA size, structure, and function in Entamoeba histolytica, a single-celled parasite and an important human pathogen. Our work has identified that E. histolytica has an abundant population of 27 nucleotide small RNAs, which have an unusual structure, indicating that they are generated by a relatively atypical mechanism. A substantial portion of these small RNAs are antisense to target genes and appear to silence them. These data establish a new paradigm for how gene expression is regulated in this organism. Furthermore, the identification of small RNAs with these structural characteristics dramatically broadens the evolutionary spectrum in which this phenomenon has been identified and indicates significant diversity and complexity of small RNAs and their functions in single-celled eukaryotes.
PMCID: PMC2582682  PMID: 19043551
5.  Draft Genome Sequence of the Sexually Transmitted Pathogen Trichomonas vaginalis 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2007;315(5809):207-212.
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.
PMCID: PMC2080659  PMID: 17218520

Results 1-5 (5)