The PfAP2-G2 transcription factor is a critical regulator of gametocyte maturation

Suprita Singh, Joana M. Santos, Lindsey M. Orchard, Naomi Yamada, Riëtte van Biljon, Heather J. Painter, Shaun Mahony, Manuel Llinás

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Differentiation from asexual blood stages to mature sexual gametocytes is required for the transmission of malaria parasites. Here, we report that the ApiAP2 transcription factor, PfAP2-G2 (PF3D7_1408200) plays a critical role in the maturation of Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes. PfAP2-G2 binds to the promoters of a wide array of genes that are expressed at many stages of the parasite life cycle. Interestingly, we also find binding of PfAP2-G2 within the gene body of almost 3,000 genes, which strongly correlates with the location of H3K36me3 and several other histone modifications as well as Heterochromatin Protein 1 (HP1), suggesting that occupancy of PfAP2-G2 in gene bodies may serve as an alternative regulatory mechanism. Disruption of pfap2-g2 does not impact asexual development, but the majority of sexual parasites are unable to mature beyond stage III gametocytes. The absence of pfap2-g2 leads to overexpression of 28% of the genes bound by PfAP2-G2 and none of the PfAP2-G2 bound genes are downregulated, suggesting that it is a repressor. We also find that PfAP2-G2 interacts with chromatin remodeling proteins, a microrchidia (MORC) protein, and another ApiAP2 protein (PF3D7_1139300). Overall our data demonstrate that PfAP2-G2 establishes an essential gametocyte maturation program in association with other chromatin-related proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1005-1024
Number of pages20
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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