The malaria genome sequencing project: complete sequence of Plasmodium falciparum chromosome 2
Gardner MJ, Tettelin H, Carucci DJ, Cummings LM, Smith HO, Fraser CM, Venter JC, Hoffman SL
An international consortium has been formed to sequence the entire genome of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. We sequenced chromosome 2 of clone 3D7 using a shotgun sequencing strategy. Chromosome 2 is 947 kb in length, has a base composition of 80.2% A + T, and contains 210 predicted genes. In comparison to the Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome, chromosome 2 has a lower gene density, a greater proportion of genes containing introns, and nearly twice as many proteins containing predicted non-globular domains. A group of putative surface proteins was identified, rifins, which are encoded by a gene family comprising up to 7% of the protein-encoding gene in the genome. The rifins exhibit considerable sequence diversity and may play an important role in antigenic variation. Sixteen genes encoded on chromosome 2 showed signs of a plastid or mitochondrial origin, including several genes involved in fatty acid biosynthesis. Completion of the chromosome 2 sequence demonstrated that the A + T-rich genome of P. falciparum can be sequenced by the shotgun approach. Within 2-3 years, the sequence of almost all P. falciparum genes will have been determined, paving the way for genetic, biochemical, and immunological research aimed at developing new drugs and vaccines against malaria.