Characterisation of a sexual stage-specific gene encoding ORC1 homologue in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.
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The origin recognition complex (ORC) is a multisubunit protein composed of six polypeptides that binds to replication origins and is essential for the initiation of chromosomal DNA replication. Using the Vectorette technique, we have isolated a novel gene encoding an ORC1-like protein from the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. The gene has no introns and encodes a protein (PfORC1) of 1189 amino acid residues with a predicted molecular mass of 139 kDa. PfORC1 contains all conserved sequences in the ORC1/Cdc6/Cdc18 family and displays the highest homology to the Schizosaccharomyces pombe ORC1. However, PfORC1 possesses an extensive N-terminal segment with several interesting features including multiple potential phosphorylation sites, a large proportion of charged amino acids, four copies of a heptamer repeat, two nuclear localisation signals, and a leucine zipper motif. Southern blot analyses show that the Pforc1 gene is present as a single copy per haploid genome and is located on chromosome 12. A 5600 nucleotide transcript of this gene is expressed predominantly in the sexual erythrocytic stage, indicating that PfORC1 may be involved in gametogenesis during which DNA is quickly replicated.
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