Professor of Genome Sciences and of Computer Science
Department of Genome Sciences
University of Washington
Virulence genes play an organizational role in the dynamic genome architecture of P. falciparum
Regulation of the developmental stages of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum is thought to be controlled by coordinated changes in gene expression, although the mechanisms controlling this process are incompletely understood. In this talk, I will describe the dynamic architecture of the Plasmodium genome, providing evidence that the three-dimensional structure of the genome is influenced by a set of genes involved in parasite virulence, and that the resulting nuclear architecture correlates with gene expression. At three different stages spanning the erythrocytic cell cycle, we observed distinct chromosome territories, strong centromeric and telomeric clustering, as well as colocalization of genes involved in virulence mechanisms. These results suggest that the spatial genome organization, in coordination with previously described changes in local chromatin structure, acts as a major alternative mechanism of transcriptional regulation, compensating for the relative scarcity of transcription factors in this genome.