Author(s): Rathjen T, Nicol C, McConkey G, Dalmay T, Rathjen T, Nicol C, McConkey G, Dalmay T
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Abstract RNA interference (RNAi) is an RNA degradation process that involves short, double-stranded RNAs (dsRNA) as sequence specificity factors. The natural function of the RNAi machinery is to generate endogenous short double-stranded RNAs to regulate gene expression. It has been shown that treatment of Plasmodium falciparum, the etiologic agent of malaria, with dsRNA induces degradation of the corresponding microRNA (miRNA), yet typical RNAi-associated genes have not been identifiable in the parasite genome. To clarify this discrepancy we set out to clone short RNAs from P. falciparum-infected red blood cells and from purified parasites. We did not find any short RNA that was not a rRNA or tRNA fragment. Indeed, only known human miRNAs were isolated in parasite preparations indicating that very few if any short RNAs exist in P. falciparum. This suggests a different mechanism than classical RNAi in observations of dsRNA-mediated degradation. Of the human miRNAs identified, the human miRNA mir-451 accumulates at a very high level in both infected and healthy red blood cells. Interestingly, mir-451 was not detectable in a series of immortalised cell lines representing progenitor stages of all major blood lineages, suggesting that mir-451 may play a role in the differentiation of erythroid cells.
This article was published in FEBS Lett
and referenced in Journal of Neuroinfectious Diseases