An SR protein is essential for activating DNA repair in malaria parasites

Manish Goyal, Brajesh Kumar Singh, Karina Simantov, Yotam Kaufman, Shiri Eshar, Ron Dzikowski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite responsible for the deadliest form of human malaria, replicates within the erythrocytes of its host, where it encounters numerous pressures that cause extensive DNA damage, which must be repaired efficiently to ensure parasite survival. Malaria parasites, which have lost the non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) pathway for repairing DNA double-strand breaks, have evolved unique mechanisms that enable them to robustly maintain genome integrity under such harsh conditions. However, the nature of these adaptations is unknown. We show that a highly conserved RNA splicing factor, P. falciparum (Pf)SR1, plays an unexpected and crucial role in DNA repair in malaria parasites. Using an inducible and reversible system to manipulate PfSR1 expression, we demonstrate that this protein is recruited to foci of DNA damage. Although loss of PfSR1 does not impair parasite viability, the protein is essential for their recovery from DNA-damaging agents or exposure to artemisinin, the first-line antimalarial drug, demonstrating its necessity for DNA repair. These findings provide key insights into the evolution of DNA repair pathways in malaria parasites as well as the ability of the parasite to recover from antimalarial treatment.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberjcs258572
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Volume134
Issue number16
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd

Keywords

  • Artemisinin
  • DNA damage response
  • Malaria
  • Plasmodium falciparum
  • SR protein
  • Splicing factor

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