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Cell Rep. 2016 Mar 15;14(10):2463-75. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.02.025. Epub 2016 Mar 3.

Landscape and Dynamics of Transcription Initiation in the Malaria Parasite Plasmodium falciparum.

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Genome Biology Unit, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany.
Genome Biology Unit, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany; Stanford Genome Technology Center, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA; Department of Genetics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. Electronic address:


A comprehensive map of transcription start sites (TSSs) across the highly AT-rich genome of P. falciparum would aid progress toward deciphering the molecular mechanisms that underlie the timely regulation of gene expression in this malaria parasite. Using high-throughput sequencing technologies, we generated a comprehensive atlas of transcription initiation events at single-nucleotide resolution during the parasite intra-erythrocytic developmental cycle. This detailed analysis of TSS usage enabled us to define architectural features of plasmodial promoters. We demonstrate that TSS selection and strength are constrained by local nucleotide composition. Furthermore, we provide evidence for coordinate and stage-specific TSS usage from distinct sites within the same transcription unit, thereby producing transcript isoforms, a subset of which are developmentally regulated. This work offers a framework for further investigations into the interactions between genomic sequences and regulatory factors governing the complex transcriptional program of this major human pathogen.

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