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De novo synthesis of thiamine (vitamin B1) is the ancestral state in Plasmodium parasites – evidence from avian haemosporidians

Author:
  • Olof Hellgren
  • Staffan Bensch
  • Elin Videvall
Publishing year: 2018
Language: English
Pages: 1084-1089
Publication/Series: Parasitology
Volume: 145
Issue: 8
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Abstract english

Parasites often have reduced genomes as their own genes become redundant when utilizing their host as a source of metabolites, thus losing their own de novo production of metabolites. Primate malaria parasites can synthesize vitamin B1 (thiamine) de novo but rodent malaria and other genome-sequenced apicomplexans cannot, as the three essential genes responsible for this pathway are absent in their genomes. The unique presence of functional thiamine synthesis genes in primate malaria parasites and their sequence similarities to bacterial orthologues, have led to speculations that this pathway was horizontally acquired from bacteria. Here we show that the genes essential for the de novo synthesis of thiamine are found also in avian Plasmodium species. Importantly, they are also present in species phylogenetically basal to all mammalian and avian Plasmodium parasites, i.e. Haemoproteus. Furthermore, we found that these genes are expressed during the blood stage of the avian malaria infection, indicating that this metabolic pathway is actively transcribed. We conclude that the ability to synthesize thiamine is widespread among haemosporidians, with a recent loss in the rodent malaria species.

Keywords

  • Zoology
  • Apicomplexa
  • auxotrophy
  • avian malaria
  • gene loss
  • plasmodium
  • thiamine

Other

Published
  • Malaria in birds
  • Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab
  • ISSN: 0031-1820
Staffan Bensch
E-mail: staffan [dot] bensch [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Professor

MEMEG

+46 46 222 42 92

E-C213

Sölvegatan 37, Lund

50

Head of unit

MEMEG

+46 46 222 42 92

E-C213

Sölvegatan 37, Lund

50

Research group

Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab

Projects

Doctoral students and postdocs

PhD students, main supervisor

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