Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 15722485
Nucleic Acids Res 2005 ; 33(3): 1111-22
Telomerase replicates chromosome ends, a function necessary for maintaining genome integrity. We have identified the gene that encodes the catalytic reverse transcriptase (RT) component of this enzyme in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum (PfTERT) as well as the orthologous genes from two rodent and one simian malaria species. PfTERT is predicted to encode a basic protein that contains the major sequence motifs previously identified in known telomerase RTs (TERTs). At approximately 2500 amino acids, PfTERT is three times larger than other characterized TERTs. We observed remarkable sequence diversity between TERT proteins of different Plasmodial species, with conserved domains alternating with hypervariable regions. Immunofluorescence analysis revealed that PfTERT is expressed in asexual blood stage parasites that have begun DNA synthesis. Surprisingly, rather than at telomere clusters, PfTERT typically localizes into a discrete nuclear compartment. We further demonstrate that this compartment is associated with the nucleolus, hereby defined for the first time in P.falciparum.