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author:("Mu, jiangling")
1.  Quinine Treatment Selects the pfnhe–1 ms4760–1 Polymorphism in Malian Patients with Falciparum Malaria 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;207(3):520-527.
Background. The mechanism of Plasmodium falciparum resistance to quinine is not known. In vitro quantitative trait loci mapping suggests involvement of a predicted P. falciparum sodium–hydrogen exchanger (pfnhe–1) on chromosome 13.
Methods. We conducted prospective quinine efficacy studies in 2 villages, Kollé and Faladié, Mali. Cases of clinical malaria requiring intravenous therapy were treated with standard doses of quinine and followed for 28 days. Treatment outcomes were classified using modified World Health Organization protocols. Molecular markers of parasite polymorphisms were used to distinguish recrudescent parasites from new infections. The prevalence of pfnhe–1 ms4760–1 among parasites before versus after quinine treatment was determined by direct sequencing.
Results. Overall, 163 patients were enrolled and successfully followed. Without molecular correction, the mean adequate clinical and parasitological response (ACPR) was 50.3% (n = 163). After polymerase chain reaction correction to account for new infections, the corrected ACPR was 100%. The prevalence of ms4760–1 increased significantly, from 26.2% (n = 107) before quinine treatment to 46.3% (n = 54) after therapy (P = .01). In a control sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine study, the prevalence of ms4760–1 was similar before and after treatment.
Conclusions. This study supports a role for pfnhe–1 in decreased susceptibility of P. falciparum to quinine in the field.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jis691
PMCID: PMC3537444  PMID: 23162138
Malaria; recurrence; antimalarials; Plasmodium falciparum; drug resistance; sodium–hydrogen antiporter; microsatellite; Mali
2.  PfSETvs methylation of histone H3K36 represses virulence genes in Plasmodium falciparum 
Nature  2013;499(7457):223-227.
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 malaria1. 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 responses2,3. The mechanism by which 59 of the 60 var genes are silenced remains largely unknown4–7. Here we show that knocking out the P. falciparum variant-silencing SET gene (PfSETvs), which encodes an ortholog of Drosophila melanogaster ASH1 and controls histone H3 lysine 36 trimethylation (H3K36me3) on var genes, results in the transcription of virtually all var genes in the single parasite nuclei and their expression as proteins on the surface of individual iRBCs. PfSETvs-dependent H3K36me3 is present along the entire gene body including the transcription start site (TSS) to silence var genes. With low occupancy of PfSETvs at both the TSS of var genes and the intronic promoter, expression of var genes coincides with transcription of their corresponding antisense long non-coding RNA (lncRNA). These results uncover a novel role of the PfSETvs-dependent H3K36me3 in silencing var genes in P. falciparum that might provide a general mechanism by which orthologs of PfSETvs repress gene expression in other eukaryotes. PfSETvs knockout parasites expressing all PfEMP1s may also be applied to the development of a malaria vaccine.
doi:10.1038/nature12361
PMCID: PMC3770130  PMID: 23823717
3.  Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplant Related Plasmodium falciparum Infection in a Patient with Sickle Cell Disease 
Transfusion  2012;52(12):2677-2682.
Background
Although transmission of Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) infection during red blood cell transfusion from an infected donor has been well documented, malaria parasites are not known to infect hematopoietic stem cells. We report a case of Pf infection in a patient 11 days after peripheral blood stem cell transplant for sickle cell disease.
Study Design and Methods
Malaria parasites were detected in thick blood smears by Giemsa staining. Pf HRP2 antigen was measured by ELISA on whole blood and plasma. Pf DNA was detected in whole blood and stem cell retention samples by real-time PCR using Pf species–specific primers and probes. Genotyping of 8 Pf microsatellites was performed on genomic DNA extracted from whole blood.
Results
Pf was not detected by molecular, serologic or parasitologic means in samples from the recipient until day 11 post-transplant, coincident with the onset of symptoms. In contrast, Pf antigen was retrospectively detected in stored plasma collected 3 months prior to transplant from the asymptomatic donor. Pf DNA was detected in whole blood from both the donor and recipient post-transplant, and genotyping confirmed shared markers between donor and recipient Pf strains. Look back analysis of red blood cell donors was negative for Pf infection.
Conclusions
These findings are consistent with transmission by the stem cell product and have profound implications with respect to the screening of potential stem cell donors and recipients from malaria-endemic regions.
doi:10.1111/j.1537-2995.2012.03673.x
PMCID: PMC3408807  PMID: 22536941
Plasmodium falciparum; Sickle Cell Disease; Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplant; Real-Time PCR; PfHRP2 Antigen ELISA
4.  Anti-Pfs25 Human Plasma Reduces Transmission of Plasmodium falciparum Isolates That Have Diverse Genetic Backgrounds 
Infection and Immunity  2013;81(6):1984-1989.
Pfs25 is a leading candidate for a malaria transmission-blocking vaccine whose potential has been demonstrated in a phase 1 trial with recombinant Pfs25 formulated with Montanide ISA51. Because of limited sequence polymorphism, the anti-Pfs25 antibodies induced by this vaccine are likely to have transmission-blocking or -reducing activity against most, if not all, field isolates. To test this hypothesis, we evaluated transmission-blocking activities by membrane feeding assay of anti-Pfs25 plasma from the Pfs25/ISA51 phase 1 trial against Plasmodium falciparum parasites from patients in two different geographical regions of the world, Thailand and Burkina Faso. In parallel, parasite isolates from these patients were sequenced for the Pfs25 gene and genotyped for seven microsatellites. The results indicate that despite different genetic backgrounds among parasite isolates, the Pfs25 sequences are highly conserved, with a single nonsynonymous nucleotide polymorphism detected in 1 of 41 patients in Thailand and Burkina Faso. The anti-Pfs25 immune plasma had significantly higher transmission-reducing activity against parasite isolates from the two geographical regions than the nonimmune controls (P < 0.0001).
doi:10.1128/IAI.00016-13
PMCID: PMC3676035  PMID: 23509152
5.  Overcoming Allelic Specificity by Immunization with Five Allelic Forms of Plasmodium falciparum Apical Membrane Antigen 1 
Infection and Immunity  2013;81(5):1491-1501.
Apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1) is a leading vaccine candidate, but the allelic polymorphism is a stumbling block for vaccine development. We previously showed that a global set of AMA1 haplotypes could be grouped into six genetic populations. Using this information, six recombinant AMA1 proteins representing each population were produced. Rabbits were immunized with either a single recombinant AMA1 protein or mixtures of recombinant AMA1 proteins (mixtures of 4, 5, or 6 AMA1 proteins). Antibody levels were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and purified IgG from each rabbit was used for growth inhibition assay (GIA) with 12 different clones of parasites (a total of 108 immunogen-parasite combinations). Levels of antibodies to all six AMA1 proteins were similar when the antibodies were tested against homologous antigens. When the percent inhibitions in GIA were plotted against the number of ELISA units measured with homologous AMA1, all data points followed a sigmoid curve, regardless of the immunogen. In homologous combinations, there were no differences in the percent inhibition between the single-allele and allele mixture groups. However, all allele mixture groups showed significantly higher percent inhibition than the single-allele groups in heterologous combinations. The 5-allele-mixture group showed significantly higher inhibition to heterologous parasites than the 4-allele-mixture group. On the other hand, there was no difference between the 5- and 6-allele-mixture groups. These data indicate that mixtures with a limited number of alleles may cover a majority of the parasite population. In addition, using the data from 72 immunogen-parasite combinations, we mathematically identified 13 amino acid polymorphic sites which significantly impact GIA activities. These results could be a foundation for the rational design of a future AMA1 vaccine.
doi:10.1128/IAI.01414-12
PMCID: PMC3648006  PMID: 23429537
6.  Artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum in Pursat province, western Cambodia: a parasite clearance rate study 
The Lancet infectious diseases  2012;12(11):851-858.
Summary
Background
Artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum has been reported in Pailin, western Cambodia, detected as a slow parasite clearance rate in vivo. Emergence of this phenotype in western Thailand and possibly elsewhere threatens to compromise the effectiveness of all artemisinin-based combination therapies. Parasite genetics is associated with parasite clearance rate but does not account for all variation. We investigated contributions of both parasite genetics and host factors to the artemisinin-resistance phenotype in Pursat, western Cambodia.
Methods
Between June 19 and Nov 28, 2009, and June 26 and Dec 6, 2010, we enrolled patients aged 10 years or older with uncomplicated falciparum malaria, a density of asexual parasites of at least 10 000 per μL of whole blood, no symptoms or signs of severe malaria, no other cause of febrile illness, and no chronic illness. We gave participants 4 mg/kg artesunate at 0, 24, and 48 h, 15 mg/kg mefloquine at 72 h, and 10 mg/kg mefloquine at 96 h. We assessed parasite density on thick blood films every 6 h until undetectable. The parasite clearance half-life was calculated from the parasite clearance curve. We genotyped parasites with 18 microsatellite markers and patients for haemoglobin E, α-thalassaemia, and a mutation of G6PD, which encodes glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase. To account for the possible effects of acquired immunity on half-life, we used three surrogates for increased likelihood of exposure to P falciparum: age, sex, and place of residence. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00341003.
Findings
We assessed 3504 individuals from all six districts of Pursat province seeking treatment for malaria symptoms. We enrolled 168 patients with falciparum malaria who met inclusion criteria. The geometric mean half-life was 5.85 h (95% CI 5.54–6.18) in Pursat, similar to that reported in Pailin (p=0.109). We identified two genetically different parasite clone groups: parasite group 1 (PG1) and parasite group 2 (PG2). Non-significant increases in parasite clearance half-life were seen in patients with haemoglobin E (0.55 h; p=0.078), those of male sex (0.96 h; p=0.064), and in 2010 (0.68 h; p=0.068); PG1 was associated with a significant increase (0.79 h; p=0.033). The mean parasite heritability of half-life was 0.40 (SD 0.17).
Interpretation
Heritable artemisinin resistance is established in a second Cambodian province. To accurately identify parasites that are intrinsically susceptible or resistant to artemisinins, future studies should explore the effect of erythrocyte polymorphisms and specific immune responses on half-life variation.
Funding
Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.
doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(12)70181-0
PMCID: PMC3786328  PMID: 22940027
7.  Mutation in the Plasmodium falciparum CRT Protein Determines the Stereospecific Activity of Antimalarial Cinchona Alkaloids 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2012;56(10):5356-5364.
The Cinchona alkaloids are quinoline aminoalcohols that occur as diastereomer pairs, typified by (−)-quinine and (+)-quinidine. The potency of (+)-isomers is greater than the (−)-isomers in vitro and in vivo against Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasites. They may act by the inhibition of heme crystallization within the parasite digestive vacuole in a manner similar to chloroquine. Earlier studies showed that a K76I mutation in the digestive vacuole-associated protein, PfCRT (P. falciparum chloroquine resistance transporter), reversed the normal potency order of quinine and quinidine toward P. falciparum. To further explore PfCRT-alkaloid interactions in the malaria parasite, we measured the in vitro susceptibility of eight clonal lines of P. falciparum derived from the 106/1 strain, each containing a unique pfcrt allele, to four Cinchona stereoisomer pairs: quinine and quinidine; cinchonidine and cinchonine; hydroquinine and hydroquinidine; 9-epiquinine and 9-epiquinidine. Stereospecific potency of the Cinchona alkaloids was associated with changes in charge and hydrophobicity of mutable PfCRT amino acids. In isogenic chloroquine-resistant lines, the IC50 ratio of (−)/(+) CA pairs correlated with side chain hydrophobicity of the position 76 residue. Second-site PfCRT mutations negated the K76I stereospecific effects: charge-change mutations C72R or Q352K/R restored potency patterns similar to the parent K76 line, while V369F increased susceptibility to the alkaloids and nullified stereospecific differences between alkaloid pairs. Interactions between key residues of the PfCRT channel/transporter with (−) and (+) alkaloids are stereospecifically determined, suggesting that PfCRT binding plays an important role in the antimalarial activity of quinine and other Cinchona alkaloids.
doi:10.1128/AAC.05667-11
PMCID: PMC3457399  PMID: 22869567
8.  Genetic Diversity and Lack of Artemisinin Selection Signature on the Plasmodium falciparum ATP6 in the Greater Mekong Subregion 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59192.
The recent detection of clinical Artemisinin (ART) resistance manifested as delayed parasite clearance in the Cambodia-Thailand border area raises a serious concern. The mechanism of ART resistance is not clear; but the P. falciparum sarco/endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (PfSERCA or PfATP6) has been speculated to be the target of ARTs and thus a potential marker for ART resistance. Here we amplified and sequenced pfatp6 gene (∼3.6 Kb) in 213 samples collected after 2005 from the Greater Mekong Subregion, where ART drugs have been used extensively in the past. A total of 24 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), including 8 newly found in this study and 13 nonsynonymous, were identified. However, these mutations were either uncommon or also present in other geographical regions with limited ART use. None of the mutations were suggestive of directional selection by ARTs. We further analyzed pfatp6 from a worldwide collection of 862 P. falciparum isolates in 19 populations from Asia, Africa, South America and Oceania, which include samples from regions prior to and after deployments ART drugs. A total of 71 SNPs were identified, resulting in 106 nucleotide haplotypes. Similarly, many of the mutations were continent-specific and present at frequencies below 5%. The most predominant and perhaps the ancestral haplotype occurred in 441 samples and was present in 16 populations from Asia, Africa, and Oceania. The 3D7 haplotype found in 54 samples was the second most common haplotype and present in nine populations from all four continents. Assessment of the selection strength on pfatp6 in the 19 parasite populations found that pfatp6 in most of these populations was under purifying selection with an average dN/dS ratio of 0.333. Molecular evolution analyses did not detect significant departures from neutrality in pfatp6 for most populations, challenging the suitability of this gene as a marker for monitoring ART resistance.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0059192
PMCID: PMC3608609  PMID: 23555629
10.  Salivary Gland Transcriptomes and Proteomes of Phlebotomus tobbi and Phlebotomus sergenti, Vectors of Leishmaniasis 
Background
Phlebotomus tobbi is a vector of Leishmania infantum, and P. sergenti is a vector of Leishmania tropica. Le. infantum and Le. tropica typically cause visceral or cutaneous leishmaniasis, respectively, but Le. infantum strains transmitted by P. tobbi can cause cutaneous disease. To better understand the components and possible implications of sand fly saliva in leishmaniasis, the transcriptomes of the salivary glands (SGs) of these two sand fly species were sequenced, characterized and compared.
Methodology/Principal Findings
cDNA libraries of P. tobbi and P. sergenti female SGs were constructed, sequenced, and analyzed. Clones (1,152) were randomly picked from each library, producing 1,142 high-quality sequences from P. tobbi and 1,090 from P. sergenti. The most abundant, secreted putative proteins were categorized as antigen 5-related proteins, apyrases, hyaluronidases, D7-related and PpSP15-like proteins, ParSP25-like proteins, PpSP32-like proteins, yellow-related proteins, the 33-kDa salivary proteins, and the 41.9-kDa superfamily of proteins. Phylogenetic analyses and multiple sequence alignments of putative proteins were used to elucidate molecular evolution and describe conserved domains, active sites, and catalytic residues. Proteomic analyses of P. tobbi and P. sergenti SGs were used to confirm the identification of 35 full-length sequences (18 in P. tobbi and 17 in P. sergenti). To bridge transcriptomics with biology P. tobbi antigens, glycoproteins, and hyaluronidase activity was characterized.
Conclusions
This analysis of P. sergenti is the first description of the subgenus Paraphlebotomus salivary components. The investigation of the subgenus Larroussius sand fly P. tobbi expands the repertoire of salivary proteins in vectors of Le. infantum. Although P. tobbi transmits a cutaneous form of leishmaniasis, its salivary proteins are most similar to other Larroussius subgenus species transmitting visceral leishmaniasis. These transcriptomic and proteomic analyses provide a better understanding of sand fly salivary proteins across species and subgenera that will be vital in vector-pathogen and vector-host research.
Author Summary
Phlebotomine female sand flies require a blood meal for egg development, and it is during the blood feeding that pathogens can be transmitted to a host. Leishmania parasites are among these pathogens and can cause disfiguring cutaneous or even possibly fatal visceral disease. The Leishmania parasites are deposited into the bite wound along with the sand fly saliva. The components of the saliva have many pharmacologic and immune functions important in blood feeding and disease establishment. In this article, the authors identify and investigate the protein components of saliva of two important vectors of leishmaniasis, Phlebotomus tobbi and P. sergenti, by sequencing the transcriptomes of the salivary glands. We then compared the predicted protein sequences of these salivary proteins to those of other bloodsucking insects to elucidate the similarity in composition, structure, and enzymatic activity. Finally, this descriptive analysis of P. tobbi and P. sergenti transcriptomes can aid future research in identifying molecules for epidemiologic assays and in investigating sand fly-host interactions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0001660
PMCID: PMC3358328  PMID: 22629480
11.  Use of magnetically purified Plasmodium falciparum parasites improves the accuracy of erythrocyte invasion assays 
Experimental parasitology  2010;126(2):278-280.
Merozoite invasion of erythrocytes is a crucial step for the asexual cycle of Plasmodium falciparum. Multiple invasion pathways, which involve different ligand-receptor interactions, have been identified in P. falciparum by examining the entry of purified parasite into erythrocytes with different surface receptors, either mutant or under different enzyme treatments. The most critical step for a successful invasion assay is the isolation of erythrocytes infected with viable schizonts. Here, we applied a magnetic column to purify the schizonts for the erythrocyte invasion assay. Comparing to Percoll-sorbitol purification method, this modified approach showed great improvement on reproducibility and reliability of invasion assay, particularly for short-term, culture-adapted parasite isolates. The magnetic purification method is an excellent alternative for parasite isolates that do not tolerate or with unknown sensitivity to Percoll-sorbitol exposure.
doi:10.1016/j.exppara.2010.05.007
PMCID: PMC2940115  PMID: 20493844
Plasmodium falciparum; parasite purification; erythrocyte invasion; magnetic column
12.  High recombination rates and hotspots in a Plasmodium falciparum genetic cross 
Genome Biology  2011;12(4):R33.
Background
The human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum survives pressures from the host immune system and antimalarial drugs by modifying its genome. Genetic recombination and nucleotide substitution are the two major mechanisms that the parasite employs to generate genome diversity. A better understanding of these mechanisms may provide important information for studying parasite evolution, immune evasion and drug resistance.
Results
Here, we used a high-density tiling array to estimate the genetic recombination rate among 32 progeny of a P. falciparum genetic cross (7G8 × GB4). We detected 638 recombination events and constructed a high-resolution genetic map. Comparing genetic and physical maps, we obtained an overall recombination rate of 9.6 kb per centimorgan and identified 54 candidate recombination hotspots. Similar to centromeres in other organisms, the sequences of P. falciparum centromeres are found in chromosome regions largely devoid of recombination activity. Motifs enriched in hotspots were also identified, including a 12-bp G/C-rich motif with 3-bp periodicity that may interact with a protein containing 11 predicted zinc finger arrays.
Conclusions
These results show that the P. falciparum genome has a high recombination rate, although it also follows the overall rule of meiosis in eukaryotes with an average of approximately one crossover per chromosome per meiosis. GC-rich repetitive motifs identified in the hotspot sequences may play a role in the high recombination rate observed. The lack of recombination activity in centromeric regions is consistent with the observations of reduced recombination near the centromeres of other organisms.
doi:10.1186/gb-2011-12-4-r33
PMCID: PMC3218859  PMID: 21463505
13.  Recent Progress in Functional Genomic Research in Plasmodium falciparum 
Current Genomics  2010;11(4):279-286.
With the completion and near completion of many malaria parasite genome-sequencing projects, efforts are now being directed to a better understanding of gene functions and to the discovery of vaccine and drug targets. Inter- and intraspecies comparisons of the parasite genomes will provide invaluable insights into parasite evolution, virulence, drug resistance, and immune invasion. Genome-wide searches for loci under various selection pressures may lead to discovery of genes conferring drug resistance or encoding for protective antigens. In addition, the Plasmodium falciparum genome sequence provides the basis for the development of various microarrays to monitor gene expression and to detect nucleotide substitution and deletion/amplification. Genome-wide profiling of the parasite proteome, chromatin modification, and nucleosome position also depend on availability of the parasite genome. In this brief review, we will highlight some recent advances and studies in characterizing gene function and related phenotype in P. falciparum that were made possible by the genome sequence, particularly the development of a genome-wide diversity map and various high-throughput genotyping methods for genome-wide association studies (GWAS).
doi:10.2174/138920210791233081
PMCID: PMC2930667  PMID: 21119892
Malaria; microarray; genome diversity; SNP; recombination; comparative genomics.
14.  Plasmodium falciparum genome-wide scans for positive selection, recombination hot spots and resistance to antimalarial drugs 
Nature genetics  2010;42(3):268-271.
Antimalarial drugs impose strong pressure on Plasmodium falciparum parasites and leave signatures of selection in the parasite genome 1,2. Search for signals of selection may lead to genes encoding drug or immune targets 3. The lack of high-throughput genotyping methods, inadequate knowledge of parasite population history, and time-consuming adaptations of parasites to in vitro culture have hampered genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of parasite traits. Here we report genotyping of DNA from 189 culture-adapted P. falciparum parasites using a custom-built array with thousands of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Population structure, variation in recombination rate, and loci under recent positive selection were detected. Parasite half maximum inhibitory concentrations (IC50) to seven antimalarial drugs were obtained and used in GWAS to identify genes associated with drug responses. The SNP array and genome-wide parameters provide valuable tools and information for new advances in P. falciparum genetics.
doi:10.1038/ng.528
PMCID: PMC2828519  PMID: 20101240
malaria; single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP); genome-wide association study; recombination; drug resistance; population structure
15.  Lack of allele-specific efficacy of a bivalent AMA1 malaria vaccine 
Malaria Journal  2010;9:175.
Background
Extensive genetic diversity in vaccine antigens may contribute to the lack of efficacy of blood stage malaria vaccines. Apical membrane antigen-1 (AMA1) is a leading blood stage malaria vaccine candidate with extreme diversity, potentially limiting its efficacy against infection and disease caused by Plasmodium falciparum parasites with diverse forms of AMA1.
Methods
Three hundred Malian children participated in a Phase 2 clinical trial of a bivalent malaria vaccine that found no protective efficacy. The vaccine consists of recombinant AMA1 based on the 3D7 and FVO strains of P. falciparum adjuvanted with aluminum hydroxide (AMA1-C1). The gene encoding AMA1 was sequenced from P. falciparum infections experienced before and after immunization with the study vaccine or a control vaccine. Sequences of ama1 from infections in the malaria vaccine and control groups were compared with regard to similarity to the vaccine antigens using several measures of genetic diversity. Time to infection with parasites carrying AMA1 haplotypes similar to the vaccine strains with respect to immunologically important polymorphisms and the risk of infection with vaccine strain haplotypes were compared.
Results
Based on 62 polymorphic AMA1 residues, 186 unique ama1 haplotypes were identified among 315 ama1 sequences that were included in the analysis. Eight infections had ama1 sequences identical to 3D7 while none were identical to FVO. Several measures of genetic diversity showed that ama1 sequences in the malaria vaccine and control groups were comparable both at baseline and during follow up period. Pre- and post-immunization ama1 sequences in both groups all had a similar degree of genetic distance from FVO and 3D7 ama1. No differences were found in the time of first clinical episode or risk of infection with an AMA1 haplotype similar to 3D7 or FVO with respect to a limited set of immunologically important polymorphisms found in the cluster 1 loop of domain I of AMA1.
Conclusion
This Phase 2 trial of a bivalent AMA1 malaria vaccine found no evidence of vaccine selection or strain-specific efficacy, suggesting that the extreme genetic diversity of AMA1 did not account for failure of the vaccine to provide protection.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-9-175
PMCID: PMC2908102  PMID: 20565971
16.  Short Report: Novel dhps and pfcrt Polymorphisms in Plasmodium falciparum Detected by Heteroduplex Tracking Assay 
Several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have been linked to antimalarial drug resistance in Plasmodium falciparum . However, standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methods to detect these polymorphisms are unable to detect SNPs in variants representing < 20% of the parasites in a mixed infection, nor can they detect polymorphisms at nearby loci. Here we use heteroduplex tracking assays (HTAs) to analyze dhps540 mutations in 96 samples from Peru and pfcrt76 mutations in 70 samples from China. All samples had been previously analyzed by standard PCR. We detected drug-resistant minority variants and two novel non-synonymous pfcrt mutations in China. In Peru, we found no drug-resistant minority variants and a synonymous mutation in dhps. Thus, even in regions of low malaria transmission, HTA assays are more informative than PCR with agarose gel electrophoresis.
PMCID: PMC2755572  PMID: 19407115
17.  Erythrocyte Binding Protein PfRH5 Polymorphisms Determine Species-Specific Pathways of Plasmodium falciparum Invasion 
Cell host & microbe  2008;4(1):40-51.
Summary
Some human Plasmodium falciparum parasites, but not others, cause malaria in Aotus monkeys. To identify the basis for this variation, we crossed two clones that differ in A. nancymaae virulence and mapped inherited traits of infectivity to erythrocyte invasion by linkage analysis. A major pathway of invasion was linked to polymorphisms in a newly-identified erythrocyte binding protein, PfRH5, found in the apical region of merozoites. Polymorphisms of PfRH5 from the A. nancymaae-virulent parent (GB4) transformed the non-virulent parent (7G8) to a virulent parasite. Conversely, replacements that removed these polymorphisms from PfRH5 converted a virulent progeny clone (LC12) to a non-virulent parasite. A proteolytic fragment of PfRH5 from the infective parasites bound to A. nancymaae erythrocytes. Our results also suggest that PfRH5 is a parasite ligand for human infection, and that amino acid substitutions can cause its binding domain to recognize different human erythrocyte surface receptors.
doi:10.1016/j.chom.2008.06.001
PMCID: PMC2677973  PMID: 18621009
18.  Analysis of salivary transcripts and antigens of the sand fly Phlebotomus arabicus 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:282.
Background
Sand fly saliva plays an important role in blood feeding and Leishmania transmission as it was shown to increase parasite virulence. On the other hand, immunity to salivary components impedes the establishment of infection. Therefore, it is most desirable to gain a deeper insight into the composition of saliva in sand fly species which serve as vectors of various forms of leishmaniases. In the present work, we focused on Phlebotomus (Adlerius) arabicus, which was recently shown to transmit Leishmania tropica, the causative agent of cutaneous leishmaniasis in Israel.
Results
A cDNA library from salivary glands of P. arabicus females was constructed and transcripts were sequenced and analyzed. The most abundant protein families identified were SP15-like proteins, ParSP25-like proteins, D7-related proteins, yellow-related proteins, PpSP32-like proteins, antigen 5-related proteins, and 34 kDa-like proteins. Sequences coding for apyrases, hyaluronidase and other putative secreted enzymes were also represented, including endonuclease, phospholipase, pyrophosphatase, amylase and trehalase. Mass spectrometry analysis confirmed the presence of 20 proteins predicted to be secreted in the salivary proteome. Humoral response of mice bitten by P. arabicus to salivary antigens was assessed and many salivary proteins were determined to be antigenic.
Conclusion
This transcriptomic analysis of P. arabicus salivary glands is the first description of salivary proteins of a sand fly in the subgenus Adlerius. Proteomic analysis of P. arabicus salivary glands produced the most comprehensive account in a single sand fly species to date. Detailed information and phylogenetic relationships of the salivary proteins are provided, expanding the knowledge base of molecules that are likely important factors of sand fly-host and sand fly-Leishmania interactions. Enzymatic and immunological investigations further demonstrate the value of functional transcriptomics in advancing biological and epidemiological research that can impact leishmaniasis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-10-282
PMCID: PMC2714351  PMID: 19555500
19.  Large-scale Genotyping and Genetic Mapping in Plasmodium Parasites 
The completion of many malaria parasite genomes provides great opportunities for genomewide characterization of gene expression and high-throughput genotyping. Substantial progress in malaria genomics and genotyping has been made recently, particularly the development of various microarray platforms for large-scale characterization of the Plasmodium falciparum genome. Microarray has been used for gene expression analysis, detection of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and copy number variation (CNV), characterization of chromatin modifications, and other applications. Here we discuss some recent advances in genetic mapping and genomic studies of malaria parasites, focusing on the use of high-throughput arrays for the detection of SNP and CNV in the P. falciparum genome. Strategies for genetic mapping of malaria traits are also discussed.
doi:10.3347/kjp.2009.47.2.83
PMCID: PMC2688805  PMID: 19488413
Plasmodium; malaria; phenotype; genotype; microsatellite; SNP
20.  Effects of Plasmodium falciparum Mixed Infections on in Vitro Antimalarial Drug Tests and Genotyping 
Studying drug resistance in Plasmodium falciparum requires accurate measurement of parasite response to a drug. Factors such as mixed infection of drug-resistant and -sensitive parasites can influence drug test outcome. Polymorphic DNA sequences are frequently employed to detect mixed infections; infections with single genotype or having a minor allele smaller than a subjectively selected cut-off value are often considered single infection. We investigate effects of mixed parasite populations containing various ratios of parasites resistant and sensitive to chloroquine on outcomes of drug tests and how ratios of parasite mixtures correlated with genotypes using polymerase chain reaction-based methods. Our results show that a mixture with a resistant population as low as 10% could greatly impact a drug test outcome. None of the genotyping methods could reliably detect minor DNA alleles at ≤10%. Mixed infection presents a serious problem for drug tests, and genotyping using microsatellite or other methods may not reliably reflect true ratios of alleles.
PMCID: PMC2680026  PMID: 18689621
21.  Disruption of a Plasmodium falciparum Multidrug Resistance-associated Protein (PfMRP) Alters Its Fitness and Transport of Antimalarial Drugs and Glutathione*S⃞ 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2009;284(12):7687-7696.
ATP-binding cassette transporters play an important role in drug resistance and nutrient transport. In the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, a homolog of the human p-glycoprotein (PfPgh-1) was shown to be involved in resistance to several drugs. More recently, many transporters were associated with higher IC50 levels in responses to chloroquine (CQ) and quinine (QN) in field isolates. Subsequent studies, however, could not confirm the associations, although inaccuracy in drug tests in the later studies could contribute to the lack of associations. Here we disrupted a gene encoding a putative multidrug resistance-associated protein (PfMRP) that was previously shown to be associated with P. falciparum responses to CQ and QN. Parasites with disrupted PfMRP (W2/MRPΔ) could not grow to a parasitemia higher than 5% under normal culture conditions, possibly because of lower efficiency in removing toxic metabolites. The W2/MRPΔ parasite also accumulated more radioactive glutathione, CQ, and QN and became more sensitive to multiple antimalarial drugs, including CQ, QN, artemisinin, piperaquine, and primaquine. PfMRP was localized on the parasite surface membrane, within membrane-bound vesicles, and along the straight side of the D-shaped stage II gametocytes. The results suggest that PfMRP plays a role in the efflux of glutathione, CQ, and QN and contributes to parasite responses to multiple antimalarial drugs, possibly by pumping drugs outside the parasite.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M806944200
PMCID: PMC2658063  PMID: 19117944
22.  Detection of genome-wide polymorphisms in the AT-rich Plasmodium falciparum genome using a high-density microarray 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:398.
Background
Genetic mapping is a powerful method to identify mutations that cause drug resistance and other phenotypic changes in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. For efficient mapping of a target gene, it is often necessary to genotype a large number of polymorphic markers. Currently, a community effort is underway to collect single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) from the parasite genome. Here we evaluate polymorphism detection accuracy of a high-density 'tiling' microarray with 2.56 million probes by comparing single feature polymorphisms (SFP) calls from the microarray with known SNP among parasite isolates.
Results
We found that probe GC content, SNP position in a probe, probe coverage, and signal ratio cutoff values were important factors for accurate detection of SFP in the parasite genome. We established a set of SFP calling parameters that could predict mSFP (SFP called by multiple overlapping probes) with high accuracy (≥ 94%) and identified 121,087 mSFP genome-wide from five parasite isolates including 40,354 unique mSFP (excluding those from multi-gene families) and ~18,000 new mSFP, producing a genetic map with an average of one unique mSFP per 570 bp. Genomic copy number variation (CNV) among the parasites was also cataloged and compared.
Conclusion
A large number of mSFP were discovered from the P. falciparum genome using a high-density microarray, most of which were in clusters of highly polymorphic genes at chromosome ends. Our method for accurate mSFP detection and the mSFP identified will greatly facilitate large-scale studies of genome variation in the P. falciparum parasite and provide useful resources for mapping important parasite traits.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-398
PMCID: PMC2543026  PMID: 18724869
23.  Genome-Wide Compensatory Changes Accompany Drug- Selected Mutations in the Plasmodium falciparum crt Gene 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(6):e2484.
Mutations in PfCRT (Plasmodium falciparum chloroquine-resistant transporter), particularly the substitution at amino acid position 76, confer chloroquine (CQ) resistance in P. falciparum. Point mutations in the homolog of the mammalian multidrug resistance gene (pfmdr1) can also modulate the levels of CQ response. Moreover, parasites with the same pfcrt and pfmdr1 alleles exhibit a wide range of drug sensitivity, suggesting that additional genes contribute to levels of CQ resistance (CQR). Reemergence of CQ sensitive parasites after cessation of CQ use indicates that changes in PfCRT are deleterious to the parasite. Some CQR parasites, however, persist in the field and grow well in culture, which may reflect adaptive changes in the parasite genome to compensate for the mutations in PfCRT. Using three isogenic clones that have different drug resistance profiles corresponding to unique mutations in the pfcrt gene (106/1K76, 106/176I, and 106/76I-352K), we investigated changes in gene expression in these parasites grown with and without CQ. We also conducted hybridizations of genomic DNA to identify copy number (CN) changes in parasite genes. RNA transcript levels from 45 genes were significantly altered in one or both mutants relative to the parent line, 106/1K76. Most of the up-regulated genes are involved in invasion, cell growth and development, signal transduction, and transport activities. Of particular interest are genes encoding proteins involved in transport and/or regulation of cytoplasmic or compartmental pH such as the V-type H+ pumping pyrophosphatase 2 (PfVP2), Ca2+/H+ antiporter VCX1, a putative drug transporter and CN changes in pfmdr1. These changes may represent adaptations to altered functionality of PfCRT, a predicted member of drug/metabolite transporter superfamily found on the parasite food vacuole (FV) membrane. Further investigation of these genes may shed light on how the parasite compensates for functional changes accompanying drug resistance mutations in a gene coding for a membrane/drug transporter.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002484
PMCID: PMC2424241  PMID: 18575593
24.  Insight into the sialome of the castor bean tick, Ixodes ricinus 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:233.
Background
In recent years, there have been several sialome projects revealing transcripts expressed in the salivary glands of ticks, which are important vectors of several human diseases. Here, we focused on the sialome of the European vector of Lyme disease, Ixodes ricinus.
Results
In the attempt to describe expressed genes and their dynamics throughout the feeding period, we constructed cDNA libraries from four different feeding stages of Ixodes ricinus females: unfed, 24 hours after attachment, four (partially fed) and seven days (fully engorged) after attachment. Approximately 600 randomly selected clones from each cDNA library were sequenced and analyzed. From a total 2304 sequenced clones, 1881 sequences forming 1274 clusters underwent subsequent functional analysis using customized bioinformatics software. Clusters were sorted according to their predicted function and quantitative comparison among the four libraries was made. We found several groups of over-expressed genes associated with feeding that posses a secretion signal and may be involved in tick attachment, feeding or evading the host immune system. Many transcripts clustered into families of related genes with stage-specific expression. Comparison to Ixodes scapularis and I. pacificus transcripts was made.
Conclusion
In addition to a large number of homologues of the known transcripts, we obtained several novel predicted protein sequences. Our work contributes to the growing list of proteins associated with tick feeding and sheds more light on the dynamics of the gene expression during tick feeding. Additionally, our results corroborate previous evidence of gene duplication in the evolution of ticks.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-233
PMCID: PMC2410133  PMID: 18489795
25.  The midgut transcriptome of Lutzomyia longipalpis: comparative analysis of cDNA libraries from sugar-fed, blood-fed, post-digested and Leishmania infantum chagasi-infected sand flies 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:15.
Background
In the life cycle of Leishmania within the alimentary canal of sand flies the parasites have to survive the hostile environment of blood meal digestion, escape the blood bolus and attach to the midgut epithelium before differentiating into the infective metacyclic stages. The molecular interactions between the Leishmania parasites and the gut of the sand fly are poorly understood. In the present work we sequenced five cDNA libraries constructed from midgut tissue from the sand fly Lutzomyia longipalpis and analyzed the transcripts present following sugar feeding, blood feeding and after the blood meal has been processed and excreted, both in the presence and absence of Leishmania infantum chagasi.
Results
Comparative analysis of the transcripts from sugar-fed and blood-fed cDNA libraries resulted in the identification of transcripts differentially expressed during blood feeding. This included upregulated transcripts such as four distinct microvillar-like proteins (LuloMVP1, 2, 4 and 5), two peritrophin like proteins, a trypsin like protein (Lltryp1), two chymotrypsin like proteins (LuloChym1A and 2) and an unknown protein. Downregulated transcripts by blood feeding were a microvillar-like protein (LuloMVP3), a trypsin like protein (Lltryp2) and an astacin-like metalloprotease (LuloAstacin). Furthermore, a comparative analysis between blood-fed and Leishmania infected midgut cDNA libraries resulted in the identification of the transcripts that were differentially expressed due to the presence of Leishmania in the gut of the sand fly. This included down regulated transcripts such as four microvillar-like proteins (LuloMVP1,2, 4 and 5), a Chymotrypsin (LuloChym1A) and a carboxypeptidase (LuloCpepA1), among others. Upregulated midgut transcripts in the presence of Leishmania were a peritrophin like protein (LuloPer1), a trypsin-like protein (Lltryp2) and an unknown protein.
Conclusion
This transcriptome analysis represents the largest set of sequence data reported from a specific sand fly tissue and provides further information of the transcripts present in the sand fly Lutzomyia longipalpis. This analysis provides the detailed information of molecules present in the midgut of this sand fly and the transcripts potentially modulated by blood feeding and by the presence of the Leishmania parasite. More importantly, this analysis suggests that Leishmania infantum chagasi alters the expression profile of certain midgut transcripts in the sand fly during blood meal digestion and that this modulation may be relevant for the survival and establishment of the parasite in the gut of the fly. Moreover, this analysis suggests that these changes may be occurring during the digestion of the blood meal and not afterwards.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-15
PMCID: PMC2249575  PMID: 18194529

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