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The genome of the zoonotic malaria parasite Plasmodium simium reveals adaptations to host switching

Abstract : Background: Plasmodium simium, a malaria parasite of non-human primates (NHP), was recently shown to cause zoonotic infections in humans in Brazil. We sequenced the P. simium genome to investigate its evolutionary history and to identify any genetic adaptions that may underlie the ability of this parasite to switch between host species. Results: Phylogenetic analyses based on whole genome sequences of P. simium from humans and NHPs reveals that P. simium is monophyletic within the broader diversity of South American Plasmodium vivax, suggesting P. simium first infected NHPs as a result of a host switch of P. vivax from humans. The P. simium isolates show the closest relationship to Mexican P. vivax isolates. Analysis of erythrocyte invasion genes reveals differences between P. vivax and P. simium, including large deletions in the Duffy-binding protein 1 (DBP1) and reticulocyte-binding protein 2a genes of P. simium. Analysis of P. simium isolated from NHPs and humans revealed a deletion of 38 amino acids in DBP1 present in all human-derived isolates, whereas NHP isolates were multi-allelic. Conclusions: Analysis of the P. simium genome confirmed a close phylogenetic relationship between P. simium and P. vivax, and suggests a very recent American origin for P. simium. The presence of the DBP1 deletion in all human-derived isolates tested suggests that this deletion, in combination with other genetic changes in P. simium, may facilitate the invasion of human red blood cells and may explain, at least in part, the basis of the recent zoonotic infections.
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Submitted on : Monday, October 11, 2021 - 2:24:25 PM
Last modification on : Monday, May 16, 2022 - 5:44:28 PM
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Tobias Mourier, Denise Anete Madureira de Alvarenga, Abhinav Kaushik, Anielle de Pina-Costa, Olga Douvropoulou, et al.. The genome of the zoonotic malaria parasite Plasmodium simium reveals adaptations to host switching. BMC Biology, BioMed Central, 2021, 19 (1), pp.219. ⟨10.1186/s12915-021-01139-5⟩. ⟨inserm-03373313⟩



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