Epigenetic regulation of virulence gene expression and sexual development in malaria parasites

The laboratory has a long-standing interest in the regulation of variant expression of virulence gene families in P. falciparum, to determine how a parasite persists in human infections and evades the immune system and switches from asexual proliferation to sexual development for transmission. The mechanistic basis for this critical process has been determined to involve epigenetic regulation of transcriptional pathways, involving the interplay of several epigenetic regulators.

Our current studies aim to establish a comprehensive functional understanding of the role of P. falciparum proteins involved in epigenetic regulation, with a particular focus on histone deacetylases, to reveal the biological processes that they regulate within the laboratory. These studies involve a combination of parasite genetics, transcriptomics, proteomics and single-cell approaches.

Papers of interest:

Epigenetic Regulation of Virulence Gene Expression in Parasitic Protozoa. (Review)

Duraisingh MT, Horn D. Cell Host Microbe. 2016 May 11;19(5):629-40.

A Plasmodium falciparum histone deacetylase regulates antigenic variation and gametocyte conversion.

Coleman BI, Skillman KM, Jiang RHY, Childs LM, Altenhofen LM, Ganter M, Leung Y, Goldowitz I, Kafsack BFC, Marti M, Llinás M, Buckee CO, Duraisingh MT. Cell Host Microbe. 2014 Aug 13;16(2):177-186. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2014.06.014.