Researchers based in Gabon and France report the discovery of a new malaria agent infecting chimpanzees in Central Africa. This new species, named Plasmodium gaboni, is a close relative of the most virulent human agent P. falciparum; it is described in an article published May 29 in the open-access journal PLoS Pathogens.
P. falciparum is the major human malaria agent responsible for one to three million deaths annually. In 2002, the publication of the genome of P. falciparum generated new hopes in the fight against this deadly disease, by the opportunities it offered to discover new drug targets. However, the lack of known related genomes has limited the development of comparative genomics according to the study's researchers from Centre International de Recherches Médicales de Franceville, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, and l'Institut de Recherche pour le Développement.
To investigate the diversity of Plasmodium parasites circulating in chimpanzees in Africa, the team collected blood from 19 wild-borne animals kept as pets by villagers in Gabon. Two were found infected by a Plasmodium parasite. The sequencing of the parasite's whole mitochondrial genome revealed that it belonged to a previously undescribed species of Plasmodium, closely related to P. falciparum. Sequencing of the nuclear genome of this new agent should further the understanding of genomic adaptations of P. falciparum to humans and thus help discover new potential drug targets.
The development of comparative genomics to further understanding of P. falciparum has been hindered by a lack of knowledge of closely related species' genomes. Only one species, P. reichenowi, infecting chimpanzees, was previously known as a sister lineage of P. falciparum. Additional information on related species has thus been needed, making the discovery of P. gaboni an important step forward in exploring a possible relationship for malaria between chimpanzees and humans.
PLEASE MENTION THE OPEN-ACCESS JOURNAL PLoS PATHOGENS (www.plospathogens.org) AS THE SOURCE FOR THIS ARTICLE AND PROVIDE A LINK TO THE FREELY AVAILABLE TEXT. THANK YOU.
PLoS Pathogens is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal published weekly by the Public Library of Science (PLoS).
FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE: Funding was provided by French IRD, CNRS, CIRMF, and a Fonds de Solidarite´ Prioritaire grant from the Ministe`re des Affaires Etrange`res de la France (FSP n˚ 2002005700). This work was also funded by ANR MGANE 07 SEST 012. CIRMF is supported by the Government of Gabon and Total-Fina-Elf Gabon. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
COMPETING INTERESTS: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
PLEASE ADD THIS LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1000446 (link will go live upon embargo lift)
CITATION: Ollomo B, Durand P, Prugnolle F, Douzery E, Arnathau C, et al. (2009) A New Malaria Agent in African Hominids. PLoS Pathog 5(5): e1000446. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000446
Laboratory Genetics and Evolution of Infectious Diseases,
Team: Genetics and Adaptation of Plasmodium
UMR 2724 CNRS-IRD,
911 Avenue Agropolis, BP 64501,
34394 Montpellier Cedex 5,
This press release refers to an upcoming article in PLoS Pathogens. The release is provided by the article authors. Any opinions expressed in these releases or articles are the personal views of the journal staff and/or article contributors, and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of PLoS. PLoS expressly disclaims any and all warranties and liability in connection with the information found in the releases and articles and your use of such information.
About PLoS Pathogens
PLoS Pathogens (www.plospathogens.org) publishes outstanding original articles that significantly advance the understanding of pathogens and how they interact with their host organisms. All works published in PLoS Pathogens are open access. Everything is immediately available subject only to the condition that the original authorship and source are properly attributed. Copyright is retained by the authors. The Public Library of Science uses the Creative Commons Attribution License.
About the Public Library of Science
The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. For more information, visit http://www.plos.org.
AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.