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Mol Microbiol. 2000 Jan;35(1):6-14.

Shotgun DNA microarrays and stage-specific gene expression in Plasmodium falciparum malaria.

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Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, NIAID, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Malaria infects over 200 million individuals and kills 2 million young children every year. Understanding the biology of malarial parasites will be facilitated by DNA microarray technology, which can track global changes in gene expression under different physiological conditions. However, genomes of Plasmodium sp. (and many other important pathogenic organisms) remain to be fully sequenced so, currently, it is not possible to construct gene-specific microarrays representing complete malarial genomes. In this study, 3648 random inserts from a Plasmodium falciparum mung bean nuclease genomic library were used to construct a shotgun DNA microarray. Through differential hybridization and sequencing of relevant clones, large differences in gene expression were identified between the blood stage trophozoite form of the malarial parasite and the sexual stage gametocyte form. The present study lengthens our list of stage-specific transcripts in malaria by at least an order of magnitude above all previous studies combined. The results offer an unprecedented number of leads for developing transmission blocking agents and for developing vaccines directed at blood stage antigens. A significant fraction of the stage-selective transcripts had no sequence homologues in the current genome data bases, thereby underscoring the importance of the shotgun approach. The malarial shotgun microarray will be useful for unravelling additional important aspects of malaria biology and the general approach may be applied to any organism, regardless of how much of its genome is sequenced.

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