Malaria: Could its unusual epigenome be the weak spot?

Adriana M. Salcedo-Amaya, Wieteke A.M. Hoeijmakers, Richard Bártfai, Hendrik G. Stunnenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The epigenetic contribution to the regulation and maintenance of gene expression patterns by histone modifications is well established in eukaryotes. In Plasmodium falciparum, the mechanisms and factors regulating gene expression during progression through its infected red blood cell cycle (iRBC) and underlying mutually exclusive expression of antigenic variation genes involved in immune evasion are far from understood. Recently, the first comprehensive analyses of the P. falciparum chromatin landscape at different iRBC stages have been performed. These studies uncovered the existence of well-defined heterochromatic regions within a generally euchromatic epigenome. Notably, silencing of genes encoding for virulence determinants such as var genes, appears to be orchestrated by the concerted action of the Sir2 and HP1 orthologs and the presence of the histone mark, H3K9me3. Epigenetic speciation could make the parasite exquisitely vulnerable to epigenetic drug treatment, unless this deadly parasite still has a number of tricks up his sleeves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)781-784
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Chromatin
  • Gene regulation
  • Histone modifications
  • Malaria
  • Plasmodium


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