Journal article

Homology blocks of Plasmodium falciparum var genes and clinically distinct forms of severe malaria in a local population

Mary M Rorick, Thomas S Rask, Edward B Baskerville, Karen P Day, Mercedes Pascual

BMC Microbiology | BIOMED CENTRAL LTD | Published : 2013


Background The primary target of the human immune response to the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1), is encoded by the members of the hyper-diverse var gene family. The parasite exhibits antigenic variation via mutually exclusive expression (switching) of the ~60 var genes within its genome. It is thought that different variants exhibit different host endothelial binding preferences that in turn result in different manifestations of disease. Results Var sequences comprise ancient sequence fragments, termed homology blocks (HBs), that recombine at exceedingly high rates. We use HBs to define distinct var types within a local populat..

View full abstract

University of Melbourne Researchers


Awarded by Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship

Funding Acknowledgements

We thank Donald S. Chen and Yael Artzy-Randrup for helpful input related to this work. MP is an Investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute. EBB was supported by a Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship (grant DE-FG02-97ER25308).