Cloning and characterisation of a Plasmodium falciparum homologue of the Ran/TC4 signal transducing GTPase involved in cell cycle control.
On the basis of conserved sequences characteristic of the Ran/TC4 subfamily of the GTPase superfamily, a fragment of the gene encoding a Plasmodium falciparum Ran/TC4 homologue was amplified in the polymerase chain reaction. The fragment was used to screen a cDNA library to obtain clones which allowed determination of the complete gene sequence. The gene, designated pfran (Plasmodium falciparum ras-like nuclear protein), has around 70% amino acid identity with previously characterised Ran/TC4 proteins. Like other malarial mRNAs, the pfran mRNA contains a long (at least 679 bp) 5' untranslated region. Southern blotting experiments show that pfran is a single copy gene located on chromosome 11. RNA hybridisation experiments indicate that pfran mRNA is abundant in late trophozoite and schizont stages, but present at very low levels in gametocytes and early asexual stages.