Identifying the genetic determinants of phenotypes that impact disease severity is of fundamental importance for the design of new interventions against malaria. Here we present a rapid genome-wide approach capable of identifying multiple genetic drivers of medically relevant phenotypes within malaria parasites via a single experiment at single gene or allele resolution. In a proof of principle study, we found that a previously undescribed single nucleotide polymorphism in the binding domain of the erythrocyte binding like protein (EBL) conferred a dramatic change in red blood cell invasion in mutant rodent malaria parasites Plasmodium yoelii. In the same experiment, we implicated merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1) and other polymorphic proteins, as the major targets of strain-specific immunity. Using allelic replacement, we provide functional validation of the substitution in the EBL gene controlling the growth rate in the blood stages of the parasites.
KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): BAS/1/1020-01-01
Acknowledgements: This work was supported by the JSPS (project numbers Nos. JP25870525, JP24255009 and JP16K21233) (to RCu), A Royal Society Bilateral Grant for Co-operative Research (to RCa and RCu) and a Sasakawa Foundation Butterfield Award (to RCu), faculty baseline fund (BAS/1/1020-01-01) from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) to AP, and Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas JR23117008 (to OK). CJRI was supported by a Sir Henry Dale Fellowship, jointly funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Royal Society (101239/Z/13/Z). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.