Ape parasite origins of human malaria virulence genes

Nat Commun. 2015 Oct 12;6:8368. doi: 10.1038/ncomms9368.

Abstract

Antigens encoded by the var gene family are major virulence factors of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, exhibiting enormous intra- and interstrain diversity. Here we use network analysis to show that var architecture and mosaicism are conserved at multiple levels across the Laverania subgenus, based on var-like sequences from eight single-species and three multi-species Plasmodium infections of wild-living or sanctuary African apes. Using select whole-genome amplification, we also find evidence of multi-domain var structure and synteny in Plasmodium gaboni, one of the ape Laverania species most distantly related to P. falciparum, as well as a new class of Duffy-binding-like domains. These findings indicate that the modular genetic architecture and sequence diversity underlying var-mediated host-parasite interactions evolved before the radiation of the Laverania subgenus, long before the emergence of P. falciparum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gorilla gorilla / parasitology*
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Pan troglodytes / parasitology*
  • Plasmodium / genetics*
  • Plasmodium / pathogenicity
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Synteny

Substances

  • Protozoan Proteins
  • erythrocyte membrane protein 1, Plasmodium falciparum

Associated data

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