Dynamic histone H3 epigenome marking during the intraerythrocytic cycle of Plasmodium falciparum

Adriana M. Salcedo-Amaya, Marc A. Van Driel, Blaise T. Alako, Morten B. Trelle, Antonia M.G. Van Den Elzen, Adrian M. Cohen, Eva M. Janssen-Megens, Marga Van De Vegte-Bolmer, Rebecca R. Selzer, A. Leonardo Iniguez, Roland D. Green, Robert W. Sauerwein, Ole N. Jensen, Hendrik G. Stunnenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

161 Citations (Scopus)


Epigenome profiling has led to the paradigm that promoters of active genes are decorated with H3K4me3 and H3K9ac marks. To explore the epigenome of Plasmodium falciparum asexual stages, we performed MS analysis of histone modifications and found a general preponderance of H3/H4 acetylation and H3K4me3. ChIP-on-chip profiling of H3, H3K4me3, H3K9me3, and H3K9ac from asynchronous parasites revealed an extensively euchromatic epigenome with heterochromatin restricted to variant surface antigen gene families (VSA) and a number of genes hitherto unlinked to VSA. Remarkably, the vast majority of the genome shows an unexpected pattern of enrichment of H3K4me3 and H3K9ac. Analysis of synchronized parasites revealed significant developmental stage specificity of the epigenome. In rings, H3K4me3 and H3K9ac are homogenous across the genes marking active and inactive genes equally, whereas in schizonts, they are enriched at the 5′ end of active genes. This study reveals an unforeseen and unique plasticity in the use of the epigenetic marks and implies the presence of distinct epigenetic pathways in gene silencing/activation throughout the erythrocytic cycle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9655-9660
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Chromatin
  • Epigenetics
  • Malaria


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