We have analysed the whole mitochondrial (mt) genome sequences (each ~6 kilo nucleotide base pairs in length) of four field isolates of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum collected from different locations in India. Comparative genomic analyses of mt genome sequences revealed three novel India-specific single nucleotide polymorphisms. In general, high mt genome diversity was found in Indian P. falciparum, at a level comparable to African isolates. A population phylogenetic tree placed the presently sequenced Indian P. falciparum with the global isolates, while a previously sequenced Indian isolate was an outlier. Although this preliminary study is limited to a few numbers of isolates, the data have provided fundamental evidence of the mt genome diversity and evolutionary relationships of Indian P. falciparum with that of global isolates.
The development and rapid spread of chloroquine resistance (CQR) in Plasmodium falciparum have triggered the identification of several genetic target(s) in the P. falciparum genome. In particular, mutations in the Pfcrt gene, specifically, K76T and mutations in three other amino acids in the region adjoining K76 (residues 72, 74, 75 and 76), are considered to be highly related to CQR. These various mutations form several different haplotypes and Pfcrt gene polymorphisms and the global distribution of the different CQR- Pfcrt haplotypes in endemic and non-endemic regions of P. falciparum malaria have been the subject of extensive study. Despite the fact that the Pfcrt gene is considered to be the primary CQR gene in P. falciparum , several studies have suggested that this may not be the case. Furthermore, there is a poor correlation between the evolutionary implications of the Pfcrt haplotypes and the inferred migration of CQR P. falciparum based on CQR epidemiological surveillance data. The present paper aims to clarify the existing knowledge on the genetic basis of the different CQR- Pfcrt haplotypes that are prevalent in worldwide populations based on the published literature and to analyse the data to generate hypotheses on the genetics and evolution of CQR malaria.
Mutations in the Pfcrt gene that change the resulting amino acids and form different haplotypes are common and correlate with the prevalence of chloroquine resistant (CQR) field isolates of the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. This correlation provides opportunities to infer the global evolutionary history of CQ resistance by analysing CQR Pfcrt haplotype data. We collated data on the Pfcrt haplotypes from different global studies and performed evolutionary genetic analysis to present comprehensive and comparative information on the global distribution of five major CQR-Pfcrt haplotypes and evolutionary inter-relationships among 38 different countries. Using the haplotype diversity data, inter-continental genetic differentiation was also ascertained.
The global emergence and spread of malaria parasites resistant to antimalarial drugs is the major problem in malaria control. The genetic basis of the parasite's resistance to the antimalarial drug chloroquine (CQ) is well-documented, allowing for the analysis of field isolates of malaria parasites to address evolutionary questions concerning the origin and spread of CQ-resistance. Here, we present DNA sequence analyses of both the second exon of the Plasmodium falciparum CQ-resistance transporter (pfcrt) gene and the 5' end of the P. falciparum multidrug-resistance 1 (pfmdr-1) gene in 40 P. falciparum field isolates collected from eight different localities of Odisha, India. First, we genotyped the samples for the pfcrt K76T and pfmdr-1 N86Y mutations in these two genes, which are the mutations primarily implicated in CQ-resistance. We further analyzed amino acid changes in codons 72-76 of the pfcrt haplotypes. Interestingly, both the K76T and N86Y mutations were found to co-exist in 32 out of the total 40 isolates, which were of either the CVIET or SVMNT haplotype, while the remaining eight isolates were of the CVMNK haplotype. In total, eight nonsynonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were observed, six in the pfcrt gene and two in the pfmdr-1 gene. One poorly studied SNP in the pfcrt gene (A97T) was found at a high frequency in many P. falciparum samples. Using population genetics to analyze these two gene fragments, we revealed comparatively higher nucleotide diversity in the pfcrt gene than in the pfmdr-1 gene. Furthermore, linkage disequilibrium was found to be tight between closely spaced SNPs of the pfcrt gene. Finally, both the pfcrt and the pfmdr-1 genes were found to evolve under the standard neutral model of molecular evolution.
TNF-α is an important human cytokine that imparts dualism in malaria pathogenicity. At high dosages, TNF-α is believed to provoke pathogenicity in cerebral malaria; while at lower dosages TNF-α is protective against severe human malaria. In order to understand the human TNF-α gene and to ascertain evolutionary aspects of its dualistic nature for malaria pathogenicity, we characterized this gene in detail in six different mammalian taxa. The avian taxon, Gallus gallus was included in our study, as TNF-α is not present in birds; therefore, a tandemly placed duplicate of TNF-α (LT-α or TNF-β) was included. A comparative study was made of nucleotide length variations, intron and exon sizes and number variations, differential compositions of coding to non-coding bases, etc., to look for similarities/dissimilarities in the TNF-α gene across all seven taxa. A phylogenetic analysis revealed the pattern found in other genes, as humans, chimpanzees and rhesus monkeys were placed in a single clade, and rats and mice in another; the chicken was in a clearly separate branch. We further focused on these three taxa and aligned the amino acid sequences; there were small differences between humans and chimpanzees; both were more different from the rhesus monkey. Further, comparison of coding and non-coding nucleotide length variations and coding to non-coding nucleotide ratio between TNF-α and TNF-β among these three mammalian taxa provided a first-hand indication of the role of the TNF-α gene, but not of TNF-β in the dualistic nature of TNF-α in malaria pathogenicity.