The following is a summary of “Novel insights into the role of long non-coding RNA in the human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum,” published in the August 2023 issue of Infectious Diseases by Batugedara et al.
Epigenetic mechanisms and long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) likely play significant roles in coordinating gene expression during Plasmodium falciparum‘s complex life cycle. In the retrospective study, researchers aimed to investigate the regulatory functions of intergenic lncRNAs within P. falciparum by examining their distribution across nuclear and cytoplasmic subcellular locations.
A total of 1768 lncRNAs were found after using nascent RNA expression profiles. Among these, 718 (around 41%) were completely new discoveries in P. falciparum. RNA-FISH Technique verified lncRNA location within the cells and when they are active during specific stages of the parasite’s life. Furthermore, they explored the locations of a few potential lncRNAs inside the cell’s nucleus using a method called ChIRP.
The result showed that locations where lncRNAs attach to the genetic material are specific and focused, following a particular sequence. These lncRNAs are more common in several parasite-specific gene families and are responsible for causing diseases and sexual differentiation. Exploring one specific lncRNA through genomics and phenotypic analysis highlighted its crucial role in sexual differentiation and reproduction.
The study provided a deeper understanding of how lncRNAs influence pathogenicity, gene regulation, and sexual differentiation. These insights created fresh opportunities for developing targeted therapeutic approaches against the lethal malaria parasite.