Adam Huckaby, a graduate student in Jennifer Guler’s lab, led a study that was published late December in Nucleic Acids Research. This computational study aimed to understand more about why the malaria parasite is so successful at evolving resistance to antimalarial drugs. We know that genome amplifications, or increased copies of large regions of the genome that encompass antimalarial targets or drug transporters, play a key role in parasite survival during drug selection. In this study, Huckaby et al. assessed the genome sequence at ~70 amplification boundaries to gain clues about the mechanism of their formation. This work identified sequence features that facilitate the accumulation of beneficial amplifications anywhere across the highly repetitive genome and proposed molecular pathways that enact these changes. Importantly, it provides a potential explanation for why the genome of Plasmodium falciparum maintains the highest known A/T content. Please click here to read the full paper.
This study was conducted in collaboration with Yuh-Hwa Wang’s group from the UVA SOM Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. Claire Granum recently graduated with a BA in Statistics and Maureen Carey, with a PhD from Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer.