3D model of malaria parasite genome created for the first time

3D model of the human malaria parasite genome at three different stages in life cycle of parasite

Apr 17, 2014 18:00 IST
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Scientists from University of California, Riverside created a 3D model of the human malaria parasite genome for the first time. The 3D model was created at three different stages in the life cycle of parasite. The creation of 3D model will help in identifying new anti-malaria drugs.

The study was published in the journal Genome Research on 16 April 2014.

Why the need for development of 3D Model

To understand the biology of an organism or any cell type, Scientist needs to understand the following


• The information encoded in the genome sequence;
• how the genome sequence is compacted and physically organised in each cell or tissue;
• how the changes in the 3D genome architecture can play a critical role in regulating gene expression, chromosome morphogenesis and genome stability.

Thus, the Scientists at California University used a chromosome conformation capture method and high throughput sequencing to analyse the organisation of the genome of p.falciparum in the natural state of the cell. Scientists then used the maps of all physical interactions to generate a 3D model of the genome for each stage of the parasite life cycle.

Once the scientists understand how the malaria parasite genome is organised in the nucleus and which components control this organisation. Then it is possible to disrupt the genome architecture and the parasite development too.  Hence, genome architecture is critical in regulating gene expression and in regulating genes that are critical for parasite virulence.

The Findings of the Study
• The team found the genes that are need to be highly expressed in the malaria parasite. Those genes are involved in translation and genes tend to cluster in the same area of the cell nucleus.
• On the other hand genes need to be tightly repressed, like genes involved in virulence are found elsewhere in the 3D structure in a repression center.  Virulence genes in the malaria parasite are responsible for the survival of Parasite in the humans.

Team found these genes are all organised into one repression center in a distinct area in the nucleus and seem to drive the full genome organisation of the parasite. The team successfully mapped all physical interactions between genetic elements in the parasite nucleus.

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