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London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Malaria Centre

New paper published in Scientific Reports


24 January 2017
Culture adaptation of malaria parasites selects for convergent loss-of-function mutants


The article identifies key genes that evolve under domestication, in the most important eukaryotic pathogen of humans. The study takes a prospective approach, analysing genome sequence changes during the early stages of culture adaptation of clinical isolates, and then examining sequences from a diverse range of previously culture-adapted lines to identify repeatedly affected genes. We were surprised to discover that culture-adaptation leads to selection of premature stop codon mutation alleles in specific genes. Long-term adapted strains of worldwide origin convergently acquired loss-of-function mutations in the same genes. The genes affected have predicted roles in transcriptional regulation and signal transduction. Understanding the adaptive processes should guide development of better experimental models for malaria parasites, improving the prospects of engineering parasites or their culture conditions to achieve desired replication or developmental phenotypes.

Read the full article here.