Proteins interacting with DNA are fundamental for mediating processes such as gene expression, DNA replication and maintenance of genome integrity. Accumulating evidence suggests that the chromatin of apicomplexan parasites, such as Plasmodium falciparum, is highly organized, and this structure provides an epigenetic mechanism for transcriptional regulation. To investigate how parasite chromatin structure is being regulated, we undertook comparative genomics analysis using 12 distinct eukaryotic genomes. We identified conserved and parasite-specific chromatin-associated domains (CADs) and proteins (CAPs). We then used the chromatin enrichment for proteomics (ChEP) approach to experimentally capture CAPs in P. falciparum. A topological scoring analysis of the proteomics dataset revealed stage-specific enrichments of CADs and CAPs. Finally, we characterized, two candidate CAPs: a conserved homologue of the structural maintenance of chromosome 3 protein and a homologue of the crowded-like nuclei protein, a plant-like protein functionally analogous to animal nuclear lamina proteins. Collectively, our results provide a comprehensive overview of CAPs in apicomplexans, and contribute to our understanding of the complex molecular components regulating chromatin structure and genome architecture in these deadly parasites.
Keywords: Plasmodium falciparum; chromatin structure; chromatin-associated proteins; proteome; topological data analysis.