Long-read genome assembly and gene model annotations for the rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium yoelii 17XNL

Mitchell J. Godin, Aswathy Sebastian, Istvan Albert, Scott E. Lindner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Malaria causes >600 thousand fatalities each year, with most cases attributed to the human-infectious Plasmodium falciparum species. Many rodent-infectious Plasmodium species, like Plasmodium berghei and Plasmodium yoelii, have been used as model species that can expedite studies of this pathogen. P. yoelii is an especially good model for investigating the mosquito and liver stages of development because key attributes closely resemble those of P. falciparum. Because of its importance, in 2002 the 17XNL strain of P. yoelii was the first rodent malaria parasite to be sequenced. Although this was a breakthrough effort, the assembly consisted of >5000 contiguous sequences that adversely impacted the annotated gene models. While other rodent malaria parasite genomes have been sequenced and annotated since then, including the related P. yoelii 17X strain, the 17XNL strain has not. As a result, genomic data for 17X has become the de facto reference genome for the 17XNL strain while leaving open questions surrounding possible differences between the 17XNL and 17X genomes. In this work, we present a high-quality genome assembly for P. yoelii 17XNL using PacBio DNA sequencing. In addition, we use Nanopore and Illumina RNA sequencing of mixed blood stages to create complete gene models that include coding sequences, alternate isoforms, and UTR designations. A comparison of the 17X and this new 17XNL assembly revealed biologically meaningful differences between the strains due to the presence of coding sequence variants. Taken together, our work provides a new genomic framework for studies with this commonly used rodent malaria model species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104871
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

Cite this