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Patterns of Gene-Specific and Total Transcriptional Activity during the Plasmodium falciparum Intraerythrocytic Developmental Cycle ▿ †

By Jennifer S. Sims, Kevin T. Militello, Peter A. Sims, Vishal P. Patel, Jacob M. Kasper and Dyann F. Wirth


The relationships among gene regulatory mechanisms in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum throughout its asexual intraerythrocytic developmental cycle (IDC) remain poorly understood. To investigate the level and nature of transcriptional activity and its role in controlling gene expression during the IDC, we performed nuclear run-on on whole-transcriptome samples from time points throughout the IDC and found a peak in RNA polymerase II-dependent transcriptional activity related to both the number of nuclei per parasite and variable transcriptional activity per nucleus over time. These differential total transcriptional activity levels allowed the calculation of the absolute transcriptional activities of individual genes from gene-specific nuclear run-on hybridization data. For half of the genes analyzed, sense-strand transcriptional activity peaked at the same time point as total activity. The antisense strands of several genes were substantially transcribed. Comparison of the transcriptional activity of the sense strand of each gene to its steady-state RNA abundance across the time points assayed revealed both correlations and discrepancies, implying transcriptional and posttranscriptional regulation, respectively. Our results demonstrate that such comparisons can effectively indicate gene regulatory mechanisms in P. falciparum and suggest that genes with diverse transcriptional activity levels and patterns combine to produce total transcriptional activity levels tied to parasite development during the IDC

Topics: Articles
Publisher: American Society for Microbiology (ASM)
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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