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J Mol Biol. 2005 Feb 11;346(1):29-42. Epub 2004 Dec 21.

PfMyb1, a Plasmodium falciparum transcription factor, is required for intra-erythrocytic growth and controls key genes for cell cycle regulation.

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  • 1INSERM U511, CHU Pitié-Salpêtrière, 91 boulevard de l'Hôpital, 75013 Paris, France.


During the complex life cycle of Plasmodium falciparum, divided between mosquito and human hosts, the regulation of morphologic changes implies a fine control of transcriptional regulation. Transcriptional control, however, and in particular its molecular actors, transcription factors and regulatory motifs, are as yet poorly described in Plasmodium. In order to decipher the molecular mechanisms implicated in transcriptional regulation, a transcription factor belonging to the tryptophan cluster family was studied. In a previous work, the PfMyb1 protein, contained in nuclear extracts, was shown to have DNA binding activity and to interact specifically with myb regulatory elements. We used long pfmyb1 double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) to interfere with the cognate messenger expression. Parasite cultures treated with pfmyb1 dsRNA exhibited a 40% growth inhibition when compared with either untreated cultures or cultures treated with unrelated dsRNA, and parasite mortality occurred during trophozoite to schizont transition. In addition, the pfmyb1 transcript and protein decreased by as much as 80% in treated trophozoite cultures at the time of their maximum expression. The global effect of this partial loss of transcript and protein was investigated using a thematic DNA microarray encompassing genes involved in signal transduction, cell cycle and transcriptional regulation. SAM software enabled us to identify several genes that were differentially expressed and probably directly or indirectly under the control of PfMyb1. Using chromatin immuno-precipitation, we demonstrated that PfMyb1 binds, within the parasite nuclei, to several promoters and therefore participates directly in the transcriptional regulation of the corresponding genes. This study provides the first evidence of a regulation network involving a Plasmodium transcription factor.

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