The asexual intraerythrocytic developmental cycle (IDC) of Plasmodium falciparum is responsible for the majority of the clinical manifestations of malaria in humans. Although malaria has been studied for over a century, the elucidation of the full genome sequence of P. falciparum has now allowed for in-depth studies of gene expression throughout the entire intraerythrocytic stage. As the mainstays of anti-malarial chemotherapy become increasingly ineffective, we need a deeper understanding of fundamental plasmodial bioregulatory mechanisms to successfully subvert them. Recent gene expression studies have begun to examine different aspects of the IDC and are providing key insights into the basic mechanisms of Plasmodium gene regulation and are helping to define gene functions. However, to date, no transcription factor has been fully characterized from Plasmodium and the definitive identification of cis-acting regulatory elements along with their corresponding trans-acting partners is still lacking. The characterization of the transcriptome of P. falciparum is the first major step towards the understanding of the genome wide regulation of gene expression in this parasite. IDC expression data for almost every gene in the P. falciparum genome can now be publicly queried at http://plasmodb.org and http://malaria.ucsf.edu. The results of these studies suggest promising leads for identifying novel targets for anti-malarial therapeutics and vaccines in addition to providing a solid foundation for the ongoing elucidation of plasmodial gene expression.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Microbiology (medical)
- Infectious Diseases