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Mol Biol Cell. 2001 Oct;12(10):3114-25.

Serial analysis of gene expression in Plasmodium falciparum reveals the global expression profile of erythrocytic stages and the presence of anti-sense transcripts in the malarial parasite.

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  • 1Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE) was applied to the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum to characterize the comprehensive transcriptional profile of erythrocytic stages. A SAGE library of approximately 8335 tags representing 4866 different genes was generated from 3D7 strain parasites. Basic local alignment search tool analysis of high abundance SAGE tags revealed that a majority (88%) corresponded to 3D7 sequence, and despite the low complexity of the genome, 70% of these highly abundant tags matched unique loci. Characterization of these suggested the major metabolic pathways that are used by the organism under normal culture conditions. Furthermore several tags expressed at high abundance (30% of tags matching to unique loci of the 3D7 genome) were derived from previously uncharacterized open reading frames, demonstrating the use of SAGE in genome annotation. The open platform "profiling" nature of SAGE also lead to the important discovery of a novel transcriptional phenomenon in the malarial pathogen: a significant number of highly abundant tags that were derived from annotated genes (17%) corresponded to antisense transcripts. These SAGE data were validated by two independent means, strand specific reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and Northern analysis, where antisense messages were detected in both asexual and sexual stages. This finding has implications for transcriptional regulation of Plasmodium gene expression.

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