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Nucleic Acids Res. 2001 May 15;29(10):2059-68.

Interspecies conservation of gene order and intron-exon structure in a genomic locus of high gene density and complexity in Plasmodium.

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  • 1Department of Parasitology, Leiden University Medical Centre, PO Box 9600, 2300 RC Leiden, The Netherlands.


A 13.6 kb contig of chromosome 5 of Plasmodium berghei, a rodent malaria parasite, has been sequenced and analysed for its coding potential. Assembly and comparison of this genomic locus with the orthologous locus on chromosome 10 of the human malaria Plasmodium falciparum revealed an unexpectedly high level of conservation of the gene organisation and complexity, only partially predicted by current gene-finder algorithms. Adjacent putative genes, transcribed from complementary strands, overlap in their untranslated regions, introns and exons, resulting in a tight clustering of both regulatory and coding sequences, which is unprecedented for genome organisation of PLASMODIUM: In total, six putative genes were identified, three of which are transcribed in gametocytes, the precursor cells of gametes. At least in the case of two multiple exon genes, alternative splicing and alternative transcription initiation sites contribute to a flexible use of the dense information content of this locus. The data of the small sample presented here indicate the value of a comparative approach for Plasmodium to elucidate structure, organisation and gene content of complex genomic loci and emphasise the need to integrate biological data of all Plasmodium species into the P.falciparum genome database and associated projects such as PlasmodB to further improve their annotation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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