Plasmodium falciparum

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The parasite that causes subtertian malaria, the most deadly form of the disease in humans. It is a sporozoan with a genome size of 22.8 mbp and about 5,300 genes spread among 14 chromosomes. The base composition is unusual in that 81% of the bases are As or Ts. The more common situation is seen in the yeast Saccharomyces where As and Ts make up only 62% of the total. About 60% of the proteins predicted to be encoded by the Plasmodium genome have no similarity to the proteins known in other organisms. Of particular interest are highly variable gene families that are clustered near the telomeres. Some of these genes encode proteins that are exported to the surface of the infected red blood cell where they bind to receptors in various tissues of the host. P. falciparum appears to have arisen within the past 6,000 years as the result of the lateral transfer between bird and human hosts. See Chronology, 2002, Gardner et al.; Genome Sizes and Gene Numbers; apicoplast, artemisinin, Plasmodium, Plasmodium life cycle, pfcrt gene.

Subjects: Genetics and Genomics.

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