The var genes of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum encode the major variable parasite protein and are expressed in a mutually exclusive manner at the surface of an infected red blood cell. In the 26 October Nature, Freitas-Junior et al. report that Plasmodium uses nuclear architecture in a pathogen survival strategy (Nature 2000, 407:1018-1022). The sub-telomeric regions that contain the var genes are clustered together at the nuclear periphery, apparently allowing recombination at frequencies much higher than those expected from homologous crossover events alone.

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?