1 Department of Immunology and Microbiology, Department of Immunology and Microbiology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet2 unknown3 Department of Immunology and Microbiology, Department of Immunology and Microbiology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet
The mechanisms underlying the heterogeneity of clinical malaria remain largely unknown. We hypothesized that differential gene expression contributes to phenotypic variation of parasites which results in a specific interaction with the host, leading to different clinical features of malaria. In this study, we analyzed the transcriptomes of isolates obtained from asymptomatic carriers and patients with uncomplicated or cerebral malaria. We also investigated the transcriptomes of 3D7 clone and 3D7-Lib that expresses severe malaria associated-variant surface antigen. Our findings revealed a specific up-regulation of genes involved in pathogenesis, adhesion to host cell, and erythrocyte aggregation in parasites from patients with cerebral malaria and 3D7-Lib, compared to parasites from asymptomatic carriers and 3D7, respectively. However, we did not find any significant difference between the transcriptomes of parasites from cerebral malaria and uncomplicated malaria, suggesting similar transcriptomic pattern in these two parasite populations. The difference between isolates from asymptomatic children and cerebral malaria concerned genes coding for exported proteins, Maurer's cleft proteins, transcriptional factor proteins, proteins implicated in protein transport, as well as Plasmodium conserved and hypothetical proteins. Interestingly, UPs A1, A2, A3 and UPs B1 of var genes were predominantly found in cerebral malaria-associated isolates and those containing architectural domains of DC4, DC5, DC13 and their neighboring rif genes in 3D7-lib. Therefore, more investigations are needed to analyze the effective role of these genes during malaria infection to provide with new knowledge on malaria pathology. In addition, concomitant regulation of genes within the chromosomal neighborhood suggests a common mechanism of gene regulation in P. falciparum.