Regulation and trafficking of three distinct 18 S ribosomal RNAs during development of the malaria parasite

J Mol Biol. 1997 Jun 6;269(2):203-13. doi: 10.1006/jmbi.1997.1038.


The human malaria parasite Plasmodium vivax has been shown to regulate the transcription of two distinct 18 RNAs during development. Here we show a third and distinctive type of ribosome that is present shortly after zygote formation, a transcriptional pattern of ribosome types that relates closely to the developmental state of the parasite and a phenomenon that separates ribosomal types at a critical phase of maturation. The A-type ribosome is predominantly found in infected erythrocytes of the vertebrate and the mosquito blood meal. Transcripts from the A gene are replaced by transcripts from another locus, the O gene, shortly after fertilization and increase in number as the parasite develops on the mosquito midgut. Transcripts from another locus, the S gene, begins as the oocyst form of the parasite matures. RNA transcripts from the S gene are preferentially included in sporozoites that bud off from the oocyst and migrate to the salivary gland while the O gene transcripts are left within the oocyst. Although all three genes are typically eukaryotic in structure, the O gene transcript, described here, varies from the other two in core regions of the rRNA that are involved in mRNA decoding and translational termination. We now can correlate developmental progression of the parasite with changes in regions of rRNA sequence that are broadly conserved, where sequence alterations have been related to function in other systems and whose effects can be studied outside of Plasmodium. This should allow assessment of the role of translational control in parasite development.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anopheles / parasitology
  • Base Sequence
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Genes, Protozoan*
  • Humans
  • Malaria, Vivax / parasitology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Phylogeny
  • Plasmodium vivax / classification
  • Plasmodium vivax / genetics
  • Plasmodium vivax / growth & development*
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • RNA, Protozoan / biosynthesis
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S / biosynthesis
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S / classification
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S / genetics*
  • Ribosomes / classification
  • Ribosomes / genetics*
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Zygote


  • RNA, Protozoan
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S

Associated data

  • GENBANK/U93095
  • GENBANK/U93233
  • GENBANK/U93234
  • GENBANK/U93235