Asparagine Repeats in Plasmodium falciparum Proteins: Good for Nothing?

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Asparagine Repeats in Plasmodium falciparum Proteins: Good for Nothing?

Public Library of Science
DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1003488
  • Microbiology
  • Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Molecular Cell Biology
  • Pearls


ppat.1003488 1..4 Pearls Asparagine Repeats in Plasmodium falciparum Proteins: Good for Nothing? Vasant Muralidharan1*, Daniel E. Goldberg2* 1Center for Tropical & Emerging Global Diseases and Department of Cellular Biology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, United States of America, 2Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Departments of Medicine and Molecular Microbiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America Malaria is a deadly parasitic human disease that poses a significant health risk for about 3.3 billion people in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world [1]. The past decade has seen significant progress in our understanding of the biology of the most deadly parasite species, Plasmodium falciparum. The groundwork for this progress was laid by genome sequencing efforts that revealed a number of surprising features [2,3]. One striking aspect of this extreme AT-rich genome is the abundance of trinucleotide repeats (predominantly AAT) coding for asparagine [3]. The wealth of low-complexity regions in P. falciparum proteins had been known prior to sequencing of the genome but not the overabundance of simple amino acid repeats [4]. Amino Acid Repeat Prevalence The random expansion of large amino acid repeats or low- complexity regions in proteomes are usually disfavored. While the effect of these repeats on the structure of the host protein depends on their amino acid compositions, low-complexity regions have a propensity to form loops or disordered structures [5]. Most sequenced genomes have a low abundance of amino acid repeats. However, there are exceptions, notably the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum and the deadly human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum [2,6]. The proteome of D. discoideum is rich in polyglutamine and polyasparagine runs of 20 or more residues, found in more than 2,000 proteins [6]. These repeats are overrepresented in certain protein families

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