Sense and antisense transcripts in the histone H1 (HIS-1) locus of Leishmania major

Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal for Parasitology, 2003, 33 (9), pp. 965 - 975
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Histone H1 in the parasitic protozoan Leishmania is a developmentally regulated protein encoded by two genes, HIS-1.1 and HIS-1.2. These genes are separated by ∼20 kb of sequence and are located on the same DNA strand of chromosome 27. When Northern blots of parasite RNA were probed with HIS-1 strand-specific riboprobes, we detected sense and antisense transcripts that were polyadenylated and developmentally regulated. When the HIS-1.2 coding region was replaced with the coding region of the neomycin phosphotransferase gene, antisense transcription of this gene was unaffected, indicating that the regulatory elements controlling antisense transcription were located outside of the HIS-1.2 gene, and that transcription in Leishmania can occur from both DNA strands even in the presence of transcription of a selectable marker in the complementary strand. A search for other antisense transcripts within the HIS-1 locus identified an additional transcript (SC-1) within the intervening HIS-1 sequence, downstream of adenine and thymine-rich sequences. These results show that gene expression in Leishmania is not only regulated polycistronically from the sense strand of genomic DNA, but that the complementary strand of DNA also contains sequences that could drive expression of open reading frames from the antisense strand of DNA. These findings suggest that the parasite has evolved in such a way as to maximise the transcription of its genome, a mechanism that might be important for it to maintain virulence. © 2003 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
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