From technology to biology: a malaria genetic toolbox for the functional dissection of essential genes


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Possessing a system that experimentally controls gene expression has been a Holy Grail in molecular malaria research. Several strategies to control gene expression at different levels have been developed; the controlled step can range from transcription initiation to post-translational modification and/or protein degradation. Strategies successfully developed in model organisms and adapted to the malaria parasite can be classified into four categories aimed at the conditional control of (i) gene deletion, (ii) gene transcription, (iii) mRNA translation, and (iv) protein stability. Here, I intend to describe the various strategies available and compare and contrast their advantages and limitations. In the absence of a unique, ubiquitous solution, it is instrumental to utilize a variety of approaches that can respond to the particular needs of each gene.