Journal article

Alterations in local chromatin environment are involved in silencing and activation of subtelomeric var genes in Plasmodium falciparum

Till S Voss, Christopher J Tonkin, Allison J Marty, Jennifer K Thompson, Julie Healer, Brendan S Crabb, Alan F Cowman



Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1), encoded by the var gene family, undergoes antigenic variation and plays an important role in chronic infection and severe malaria. Only a single var gene is transcribed per parasite, and epigenetic control mechanisms are fundamental in this strategy of mutually exclusive transcription. We show that subtelomeric upsB var gene promoters carried on episomes are silenced by default, and that promoter activation is sufficient to silence all other family members. However, they are active by default when placed downstream of a second active var promoter, underscoring the significance of local chromatin environment and nuclear compartmen..

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