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Nucleic Acids Res. 1994 Aug 11;22(15):3099-103.

Chromatin structure determines the sites of chromosome breakages in Plasmodium falciparum.

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  • 1Zentrum für Infektionsforschung, Universität Würzburg, Germany.


Spontaneous chromosome breakages are frequently observed in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum and are responsible for the generation of novel phenotypes, which may contribute to the pathogenicity and virulence of this protozoan parasite. The identification of a hot spot of chromosome breakage within the coding region of the KAHRP gene revealed that these events do not occur randomly but follow a regular pattern with a periodicity of 155 bp. This phasing corresponds to the average repeat unit of P. falciparum nucleosomes. Furthermore, breakage events preferentially occur within the linker regions of nucleosomes, as demonstrated by mapping endonuclease hypersensitive sites of chromatin. These data suggest that, in P. falciparum, the chromatin structure is involved in the molecular process of chromosome breakage, a mechanism that may be common in other eukaryotes.

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