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Mol Biochem Parasitol. 1998 Jul 1;94(1):1-12.

Malaria parasites contain two identical copies of an elongation factor 1 alpha gene.

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Laboratorium voor Parasitologie, Leiden University Medical Centre, The Netherlands.


Elongation factor 1alpha (EF-1alpha) is an abundant protein in eukaryotic cells, involved chiefly in translation of mRNA on the ribosomes, and is frequently encoded by more than one gene. Here we show the presence of two identical copies of the EF-1alpha gene in the genome of three malaria parasites, Plasmodium knowlesi, P. berghei and P. falciparum. They are organized in a head-to-head orientation and both genes are expressed in a stage specific manner at a high level, indicating that the small intergenic region contains either two strong promoters or a single bidirectional one. Both genes are expressed at the same time during erythrocytic development of the parasite. This expression pattern and the 100% similarity of the two genes excludes the possibility that the duplicated genes developed in accordance to the different types of ribosomes in Plasmodium. It is more likely that the duplication reflects a gene dosage effect. Comparison of codon usage in the Cdc2-related kinase genes (CRK2) of Plasmodium, which are expressed at a very low level, with the EF-1alpha genes indicates the existence of a codon bias for highly expressed genes, as has been shown in other organisms.

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