Recent advances in malaria genomics and epigenomics

Kirchner, S. , Power, B. J. and Waters, A. P. (2016) Recent advances in malaria genomics and epigenomics. Genome Medicine, 8, 92. (doi: 10.1186/s13073-016-0343-7) (PMID:27605022) (PMCID:PMC5015228)

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Malaria continues to impose a significant disease burden on low- and middle-income countries in the tropics. However, revolutionary progress over the last 3 years in nucleic acid sequencing, reverse genetics, and post-genome analyses has generated step changes in our understanding of malaria parasite (Plasmodium spp.) biology and its interactions with its host and vector. Driven by the availability of vast amounts of genome sequence data from Plasmodium species strains, relevant human populations of different ethnicities, and mosquito vectors, researchers can consider any biological component of the malarial process in isolation or in the interactive setting that is infection. In particular, considerable progress has been made in the area of population genomics, with Plasmodium falciparum serving as a highly relevant model. Such studies have demonstrated that genome evolution under strong selective pressure can be detected. These data, combined with reverse genetics, have enabled the identification of the region of the P. falciparum genome that is under selective pressure and the confirmation of the functionality of the mutations in the kelch13 gene that accompany resistance to the major frontline antimalarial, artemisinin. Furthermore, the central role of epigenetic regulation of gene expression and antigenic variation and developmental fate in P. falciparum is becoming ever clearer. This review summarizes recent exciting discoveries that genome technologies have enabled in malaria research and highlights some of their applications to healthcare. The knowledge gained will help to develop surveillance approaches for the emergence or spread of drug resistance and to identify new targets for the development of antimalarial drugs and perhaps vaccines.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kirchner, Dr Sebastian and Waters, Professor Andy
Authors: Kirchner, S., Power, B. J., and Waters, A. P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity
Journal Name:Genome Medicine
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN (Online):1756-994X
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 The Authors
First Published:First published in Genome Medicine 8: 92
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
706621SECOMAPAndrew WatersEuropean Commission (EC)657592III - PARASITOLOGY
645181Molecular Functions in Disease PhD Programme (2013-2017)Andrew WatersWellcome Trust (WELLCOME)102463/Z/13/ZIII - PARASITOLOGY
466861Conditional translational repression: a core regulatory mechanism of gene expression during development of the malaria parasite.Andrew WatersWellcome Trust (WELLCOME)083811/Z/07/ZIII - PARASITOLOGY