Changes in genome organization of parasite-specific gene families during the Plasmodium transmission stages
Bunnik EM., Cook KB., Varoquaux N., Batugedara G., Prudhomme J., Shi L., Andolina C., Ross LS., Brady D., Fidock DA., Nosten F., Tewari R., Sinnis P., Ay F., Vert J-P., Noble WS., Le Roch KG.
ABSTRACTThe development of malaria parasites throughout their various life cycle stages is controlled by coordinated changes in gene expression. We previously showed that the three-dimensional organization of the P. falciparum genome is strongly associated with gene expression during its replication cycle inside red blood cells. Here, we analyzed genome organization in the P. falciparum and P. vivax transmission stages. Major changes occurred in the localization and interactions of genes involved in pathogenesis and immune evasion, erythrocyte and liver cell invasion, sexual differentiation and master regulation of gene expression. In addition, we observed reorganization of subtelomeric heterochromatin around genes involved in host cell remodeling. Depletion of heterochromatin protein 1 (PfHP1) resulted in loss of interactions between virulence genes, confirming that PfHP1 is essential for maintenance of the repressive center. Overall, our results suggest that the three-dimensional genome structure is strongly connected with transcriptional activity of specific gene families throughout the life cycle of human malaria parasites.