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PLoS One. 2013 Apr 30;8(4):e63068. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0063068. Print 2013.

Genomic analysis of sequence-dependent DNA curvature in Leishmania.

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  • 1Laboratorio de Interacciones Moleculares, Facultad de Ciencias, Montevideo, Uruguay.


Leishmania major is a flagellated protozoan parasite of medical importance. Like other members of the Trypanosomatidae family, it possesses unique mechanisms of gene expression such as constitutive polycistronic transcription of directional gene clusters, gene amplification, mRNA trans-splicing, and extensive editing of mitochondrial transcripts. The molecular signals underlying most of these processes remain under investigation. In order to investigate the role of DNA secondary structure signals in gene expression, we carried out a genome-wide in silico analysis of the intrinsic DNA curvature. The L. major genome revealed a lower frequency of high intrinsic curvature regions as well as inter- and intra- chromosomal distribution heterogeneity, when compared to prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms. Using a novel method aimed at detecting region-integrated intrinsic curvature (RIIC), high DNA curvature was found to be associated with regions implicated in transcription initiation. Those include divergent strand-switch regions between directional gene clusters and regions linked to markers of active transcription initiation such as acetylated H3 histone, TRF4 and SNAP50. These findings suggest a role for DNA curvature in transcription initiation in Leishmania supporting the relevance of DNA secondary structures signals.

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