Resetting var Gene Transcription in Plasmodium falciparum

Vera Mitesser, Ron Dzikowski*

*Corresponding author for this work

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


One of the key mechanisms contributing to the virulence of Plasmodium falciparum is its ability to undergo antigenic switching among antigenically distinct variants of the PfEMP1 adhesive proteins, encoded by the var gene family. To avoid premature exposure of its antigenic repertoire, the parasite transcribes its var genes in a mutually exclusive manner, and switch expression at a very slow rate. This process is epigenetically regulated and it relies on “epigenetic memory,” which imprints the single active var gene to remain active for multiple replication cycles. Erasing this epigenetic memory in parasites grown in culture resembles parasites, which egress from the liver. It could therefore be of interest for investigating var switching patterns at the onset of malaria infections. In addition, this procedure could be used for creating heterogeneity of var expression among parasite populations. The methodology described here for resetting of var gene expression is based on promoter titration, also known as molecular sponging.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages10
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.


  • Antigenic switching
  • Epigenetic memory
  • P. falciparum
  • var genes


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