CRISPR-Cas9 Editing of the Plasmodium falciparum Genome: Special Applications

Xu Zhang, Kirk William Deitsch, Ron Dzikowski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The virulence of Plasmodium falciparum has been attributed in large part to the expression on the surface of infected red blood cells of the variant surface antigen Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1). Different forms of this protein are encoded by individual members of the multicopy gene family called var. Two attributes of the var gene family are key to the pathogenesis of malaria caused by P. falciparum; the hyperrecombinogenic nature of the var gene family that continuously generates antigenic diversity within parasite populations, and the ability of parasites to express only a single var gene at a time and to switch which gene is expressed over the course of an infection. The unique attributes of CRISPR-Cas9 have been applied to help decipher the molecular mechanisms underlying these unusual properties of the var gene family, both as a source of the DNA double strand breaks that initiate var gene recombination and as a way to recruit molecular probes to specific regions of the genome. In this chapter, we describe these somewhat unusual applications of the CRISPR-Cas9 system.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages13
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745
ISSN (Electronic)1940-6029

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Chromatin
  • Homologous recombination
  • Multicopy gene families
  • Mutually exclusive expression
  • Noncoding RNA
  • Subtelomeric domains
  • Telomere healing


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