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Mol Microbiol. 2003 Jun;48(5):1209-23.

Ten families of variant genes encoded in subtelomeric regions of multiple chromosomes of Plasmodium chabaudi, a malaria species that undergoes antigenic variation in the laboratory mouse.

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  • 1The Queensland Institute of Medical Research, P. O. Royal Brisbane Hospital, Australia. katjaF@qimr.edu.au

Abstract

The chromosome ends of human malaria parasites harbour many genes encoding proteins that are exported to the surface of infected red cells, often being involved in host-parasite interactions and immune evasion. Unlike other murine malaria parasites Plasmodium chabaudi undergoes antigenic variation during passage in the laboratory mouse and hence is a model suitable for investigation of switching mechanisms. However, little is known about the subtelomeric regions of P. chabaudi chromosomes and its variable antigens. Here we report 80 kb of sequence from an end of one P. chabaudi chromosome. Hybridization of probes spanning this region to two dimensional pulsed field gels of the genome revealed 10 multicopy gene families located exclusively in subtelomeric regions of multiple P. chabaudi chromosomes, interspersed amongst multicopy intergenic regions. Hence all chromosomes share a common subtelomeric structure, presumably playing a similar role in spatial positioning as the P. falciparum Rep20 sequence. Expression in blood stages, domains characteristic of surface antigens and copy numbers between four and several hundred per genome, indicate a functional role in antigenic variation for some of these families. We identify members of the cir family, as well as novel genes, that although clearly homologous to cir have large low complexity regions in the predicted extracellular domains. Although all families have homologues in other rodent Plasmodium species, four were previously not known to be subtelomeric. Six have homologues in human and simian malarias.

PMID:
12787350
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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