Piecing together the Plasmodium falciparum genome puzzle: characterization of genes/proteins, PFE0565w and PF11_0394
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Malaria is still a significant problem around the world and, thus, better control methods are in great need. A key stage in the Plasmodium life cycle is the sporozoite because it exhibits dual infectivity in both the mosquito vector and vertebrate host and, therefore, is a promising target for discovering effective ways of controlling malaria. The P. falciparum genes, PFE0565w and PF11_0394, were chosen as candidates for study based on data available on PlasmoDB, the Plasmodium database, indicating that they are expressed both at the transcriptional and protein levels in sporozoites and likely encode putative surface proteins. Transcripts of both PFE0565w and PF11_0394 are present in both mosquito and vertebrate host life cycle stages, but both of their proteins are specific to salivary gland sporozoites as shown by immunofluorescent assays and/or GFP-trafficking studies. Functional studies for PFE0565w are currently in progress to determine if it may play a role in parasite development and/or invasion of host tissues. Because PFE0565w and PF11_0394 do not have homology with any human proteins, they could be targets for new drugs and/or vaccines. Lastly, in addition to studies conducted with P. falciparum, a preliminary comparative study between the P. berghei orthologs of PFE0565w and PF11_0394, PBANKA_111090 and PBANKA_091050, respectively, was conducted.