The Role of Chromatin Structure in Gene Regulation of the Human Malaria Parasite

Trends Parasitol. 2017 May;33(5):364-377. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2017 Jan 5.


The human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, depends on a coordinated regulation of gene expression for development and propagation within the human host. Recent developments suggest that gene regulation in the parasite is largely controlled by epigenetic mechanisms. Here, we discuss recent advancements contributing to our understanding of the mechanisms controlling gene regulation in the parasite, including nucleosome landscape, histone modifications, and nuclear architecture. In addition, various processes involved in regulation of parasite-specific genes and gene families are examined. Finally, we address the use of epigenetic processes as targets for novel antimalarial therapies. Collectively, these topics highlight the unique biology of P. falciparum, and contribute to our understanding of mechanisms regulating gene expression in this deadly parasite.

Keywords: Plasmodium; chromatin; epigenetics; gene regulation; malaria; nucleosome.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Chromatin / chemistry*
  • Chromatin / physiology*
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / genetics
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Malaria, Falciparum / drug therapy
  • Malaria, Falciparum / parasitology*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / genetics*


  • Chromatin