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1.  Characterization and gene expression analysis of the cir multi-gene family of plasmodium chabaudi chabaudi (AS) 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:125.
The pir genes comprise the largest multi-gene family in Plasmodium, with members found in P. vivax, P. knowlesi and the rodent malaria species. Despite comprising up to 5% of the genome, little is known about the functions of the proteins encoded by pir genes. P. chabaudi causes chronic infection in mice, which may be due to antigenic variation. In this model, pir genes are called cirs and may be involved in this mechanism, allowing evasion of host immune responses. In order to fully understand the role(s) of CIR proteins during P. chabaudi infection, a detailed characterization of the cir gene family was required.
The cir repertoire was annotated and a detailed bioinformatic characterization of the encoded CIR proteins was performed. Two major sub-families were identified, which have been named A and B. Members of each sub-family displayed different amino acid motifs, and were thus predicted to have undergone functional divergence. In addition, the expression of the entire cir repertoire was analyzed via RNA sequencing and microarray. Up to 40% of the cir gene repertoire was expressed in the parasite population during infection, and dominant cir transcripts could be identified. In addition, some differences were observed in the pattern of expression between the cir subgroups at the peak of P. chabaudi infection. Finally, specific cir genes were expressed at different time points during asexual blood stages.
In conclusion, the large number of cir genes and their expression throughout the intraerythrocytic cycle of development indicates that CIR proteins are likely to be important for parasite survival. In particular, the detection of dominant cir transcripts at the peak of P. chabaudi infection supports the idea that CIR proteins are expressed, and could perform important functions in the biology of this parasite. Further application of the methodologies described here may allow the elucidation of CIR sub-family A and B protein functions, including their contribution to antigenic variation and immune evasion.
PMCID: PMC3384456  PMID: 22458863
2.  Diversity in parasitic nematode genomes: the microRNAs of Brugia pahangi and Haemonchus contortus are largely novel 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:4.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play key roles in regulating post-transcriptional gene expression and are essential for development in the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and in higher organisms. Whether microRNAs are involved in regulating developmental programs of parasitic nematodes is currently unknown. Here we describe the the miRNA repertoire of two important parasitic nematodes as an essential first step in addressing this question.
The small RNAs from larval and adult stages of two parasitic species, Brugia pahangi and Haemonchus contortus, were identified using deep-sequencing and bioinformatic approaches. Comparative analysis to known miRNA sequences reveals that the majority of these miRNAs are novel. Some novel miRNAs are abundantly expressed and display developmental regulation, suggesting important functional roles. Despite the lack of conservation in the miRNA repertoire, genomic positioning of certain miRNAs within or close to specific coding genes is remarkably conserved across diverse species, indicating selection for these associations. Endogenous small-interfering RNAs and Piwi-interacting (pi)RNAs, which regulate gene and transposon expression, were also identified. piRNAs are expressed in adult stage H. contortus, supporting a conserved role in germline maintenance in some parasitic nematodes.
This in-depth comparative analysis of nematode miRNAs reveals the high level of divergence across species and identifies novel sequences potentially involved in development. Expression of novel miRNAs may reflect adaptations to different environments and lifestyles. Our findings provide a detailed foundation for further study of the evolution and function of miRNAs within nematodes and for identifying potential targets for intervention.
PMCID: PMC3282659  PMID: 22216965
3.  Using RNA-seq to determine the transcriptional landscape and the hypoxic response of the pathogenic yeast Candida parapsilosis 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:628.
Candida parapsilosis is one of the most common causes of Candida infection worldwide. However, the genome sequence annotation was made without experimental validation and little is known about the transcriptional landscape. The transcriptional response of C. parapsilosis to hypoxic (low oxygen) conditions, such as those encountered in the host, is also relatively unexplored.
We used next generation sequencing (RNA-seq) to determine the transcriptional profile of C. parapsilosis growing in several conditions including different media, temperatures and oxygen concentrations. We identified 395 novel protein-coding sequences that had not previously been annotated. We removed > 300 unsupported gene models, and corrected approximately 900. We mapped the 5' and 3' UTR for thousands of genes. We also identified 422 introns, including two introns in the 3' UTR of one gene. This is the first report of 3' UTR introns in the Saccharomycotina. Comparing the introns in coding sequences with other species shows that small numbers have been gained and lost throughout evolution. Our analysis also identified a number of novel transcriptional active regions (nTARs). We used both RNA-seq and microarray analysis to determine the transcriptional profile of cells grown in normoxic and hypoxic conditions in rich media, and we showed that there was a high correlation between the approaches. We also generated a knockout of the UPC2 transcriptional regulator, and we found that similar to C. albicans, Upc2 is required for conferring resistance to azole drugs, and for regulation of expression of the ergosterol pathway in hypoxia.
We provide the first detailed annotation of the C. parapsilosis genome, based on gene predictions and transcriptional analysis. We identified a number of novel ORFs and other transcribed regions, and detected transcripts from approximately 90% of the annotated protein coding genes. We found that the transcription factor Upc2 role has a conserved role as a major regulator of the hypoxic response in C. parapsilosis and C. albicans.
PMCID: PMC3287387  PMID: 22192698
Transcriptional profiling, pathogenesis, RNA-seq, Candida
4.  An insight into the sialome of Glossina morsitans morsitans 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:213.
Blood feeding evolved independently in worms, arthropods and mammals. Among the adaptations to this peculiar diet, these animals developed an armament of salivary molecules that disarm their host's anti-bleeding defenses (hemostasis), inflammatory and immune reactions. Recent sialotranscriptome analyses (from the Greek sialo = saliva) of blood feeding insects and ticks have revealed that the saliva contains hundreds of polypeptides, many unique to their genus or family. Adult tsetse flies feed exclusively on vertebrate blood and are important vectors of human and animal diseases. Thus far, only limited information exists regarding the Glossina sialome, or any other fly belonging to the Hippoboscidae.
As part of the effort to sequence the genome of Glossina morsitans morsitans, several organ specific, high quality normalized cDNA libraries have been constructed, from which over 20,000 ESTs from an adult salivary gland library were sequenced. These ESTs have been assembled using previously described ESTs from the fat body and midgut libraries of the same fly, thus totaling 62,251 ESTs, which have been assembled into 16,743 clusters (8,506 of which had one or more EST from the salivary gland library). Coding sequences were obtained for 2,509 novel proteins, 1,792 of which had at least one EST expressed in the salivary glands. Despite library normalization, 59 transcripts were overrepresented in the salivary library indicating high levels of expression. This work presents a detailed analysis of the salivary protein families identified. Protein expression was confirmed by 2D gel electrophoresis, enzymatic digestion and mass spectrometry. Concurrently, an initial attempt to determine the immunogenic properties of selected salivary proteins was undertaken.
The sialome of G. m. morsitans contains over 250 proteins that are possibly associated with blood feeding. This set includes alleles of previously described gene products, reveals new evidence that several salivary proteins are multigenic and identifies at least seven new polypeptide families unique to Glossina. Most of these proteins have no known function and thus, provide a discovery platform for the identification of novel pharmacologically active compounds, innovative vector-based vaccine targets, and immunological markers of vector exposure.
PMCID: PMC2853526  PMID: 20353571
5.  Transcriptome analysis of reproductive tissue and intrauterine developmental stages of the tsetse fly (Glossina morsitans morsitans) 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:160.
Tsetse flies, vectors of African trypanosomes, undergo viviparous reproduction (the deposition of live offspring). This reproductive strategy results in a large maternal investment and the deposition of a small number of progeny during a female's lifespan. The reproductive biology of tsetse has been studied on a physiological level; however the molecular analysis of tsetse reproduction requires deeper investigation. To build a foundation from which to base molecular studies of tsetse reproduction, a cDNA library was generated from female tsetse (Glossina morsitans morsitans) reproductive tissues and the intrauterine developmental stages. 3438 expressed sequence tags were sequenced and analyzed.
Analysis of a nonredundant catalogue of 1391 contigs resulted in 520 predicted proteins. 475 of these proteins were full length. We predict that 412 of these represent cytoplasmic proteins while 57 are secreted. Comparison of these proteins with other tissue specific tsetse cDNA libraries (salivary gland, fat body/milk gland, and midgut) identified 51 that are unique to the reproductive/immature cDNA library. 11 unique proteins were homologus to uncharacterized putative proteins within the NR database suggesting the identification of novel genes associated with reproductive functions in other insects (hypothetical conserved). The analysis also yielded seven putative proteins without significant homology to sequences present in the public database (unknown genes). These proteins may represent unique functions associated with tsetse's viviparous reproductive cycle. RT-PCR analysis of hypothetical conserved and unknown contigs was performed to determine basic tissue and stage specificity of the expression of these genes.
This paper identifies 51 putative proteins specific to a tsetse reproductive/immature EST library. 11 of these proteins correspond to hypothetical conserved genes and 7 proteins are tsetse specific.
PMCID: PMC2846916  PMID: 20214793
6.  Insights into the genome sequence of a free-living Kinetoplastid: Bodo saltans (Kinetoplastida: Euglenozoa) 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:594.
Bodo saltans is a free-living kinetoplastid and among the closest relatives of the trypanosomatid parasites, which cause such human diseases as African sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis and Chagas disease. A B. saltans genome sequence will provide a free-living comparison with parasitic genomes necessary for comparative analyses of existing and future trypanosomatid genomic resources. Various coding regions were sequenced to provide a preliminary insight into the bodonid genome sequence, relative to trypanosomatid sequences.
0.4 Mbp of B. saltans genome was sequenced from 12 distinct regions and contained 178 coding sequences. As in trypanosomatids, introns were absent and %GC was elevated in coding regions, greatly assisting in gene finding. In the regions studied, roughly 60% of all genes had homologs in trypanosomatids, while 28% were Bodo-specific. Intergenic sequences were typically short, resulting in higher gene density than in trypanosomatids. Although synteny was typically conserved for those genes with trypanosomatid homologs, strict colinearity was rarely observed because gene order was regularly disrupted by Bodo-specific genes.
The B. saltans genome contains both sequences homologous to trypanosomatids and sequences never seen before. Structural similarities suggest that its assembly should be solvable, and, although de novo assembly will be necessary, existing trypanosomatid projects will provide some guide to annotation. A complete genome sequence will provide an effective ancestral model for understanding the shared and derived features of known trypanosomatid genomes, but it will also identify those kinetoplastid genome features lost during the evolution of parasitism.
PMCID: PMC2621209  PMID: 19068121

Results 1-6 (6)