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Infect Immun. 2007 Apr;75(4):2012-25. Epub 2007 Feb 5.

Molecular factors and biochemical pathways induced by febrile temperature in intraerythrocytic Plasmodium falciparum parasites.

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  • 1Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/NIH, Rockville, MD 20892, USA.

Abstract

Intermittent episodes of febrile illness are the most benign and recognized symptom of infection with malaria parasites, although the effects on parasite survival and virulence remain unclear. In this study, we identified the molecular factors altered in response to febrile temperature by measuring differential expression levels of individual genes using high-density oligonucleotide microarray technology and by performing biological assays in asexual-stage Plasmodium falciparum parasite cultures incubated at 37 degrees C and 41 degrees C (an elevated temperature that is equivalent to malaria-induced febrile illness in the host). Elevated temperature had a profound influence on expression of individual genes; 336 of approximately 5,300 genes (6.3% of the genome) had altered expression profiles. Of these, 163 genes (49%) were upregulated by twofold or greater, and 173 genes (51%) were downregulated by twofold or greater. In-depth sensitive sequence profile analysis revealed that febrile temperature-induced responses caused significant alterations in the major parasite biologic networks and pathways and that these changes are well coordinated and intricately linked. One of the most notable transcriptional changes occurs in genes encoding proteins containing the predicted Pexel motifs that are exported into the host cytoplasm or inserted into the host cell membrane and are likely to be associated with erythrocyte remodeling and parasite sequestration functions. Using our sensitive computational analysis, we were also able to assign biochemical or biologic functional predictions for at least 100 distinct genes previously annotated as "hypothetical." We find that cultivation of P. falciparum parasites at 41 degrees C leads to parasite death in a time-dependent manner. The presence of the "crisis forms" and the terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase-mediated dUTP-biotin nick end labeling-positive parasites following heat treatment strongly support the notion that an apoptosis-like cell death mechanism might be induced in response to febrile temperatures. These studies enhance the possibility of designing vaccines and drugs on the basis of disruption in molecules and pathways of parasite survival and virulence activated in response to febrile temperatures.

PMID:
17283083
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1865691
Free PMC Article

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