Chromodomain protein interacts with H3K9me3 and controls RBC rosette formation by regulating the expression of a subset of RIFINs in the malaria parasite


Plasmodium falciparum expresses clonally variant proteins on the surface of infected erythrocytes to evade the host immune system. The clonally variant multigene families includevar, rifin, andstevor, which express Erythrocyte Membrane Protein 1 (EMP1), Repetitive Interspersed Families of polypeptides (RIFINs), and Sub-telomeric Variable Open Reading frame (STEVOR) proteins, respectively. The rifins are the largest multigene family and are essentially involved in the RBC rosetting, the hallmark of severe malaria. The molecular regulators that control the RIFINs expression inPlasmodium spp.have not been reported so far. This study reports a chromodomain-containing protein (PfCDP) that binds to H3K9me3 modification on P. falciparum chromatin. Conditional deletion of the chromodomain (CD) gene in P. falciparumusingan inducible DiCre-LoxP system leads to selective up-regulation of a subset of virulence genes, including rifins, a fewvar,andstevorgenes. Further, we show that PfCDP conditional knockout (PfΔCDP) promotes RBC rosette formation. This study provides the first evidence of an epigenetic regulator mediated control on a subset of RIFINs expression and RBC rosetting byP. falciparum.

Journal details

Volume 434
Issue number 12
Pages 167601
Available online
Publication date