Evidence for negative selection on the gene encoding rhoptry-associated protein 1 (RAP-1) in Plasmodium spp.

M. Andreína Pacheco, Elizabeth M. Ryan, Amanda C. Poe, Leonardo Basco, Venkatachalam Udhayakumar, Williams E. Collins, Ananias A. Escalante

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Assessing how natural selection, negative or positive, operates on genes with low polymorphism is challenging. We investigated the genetic diversity of orthologous genes encoding the rhoptry-associated protein 1 (RAP-1), a low polymorphic protein of malarial parasites that is involved in erythrocyte invasion. We applied evolutionary genetic methods to study the polymorphism in RAP-1 from Plasmodium falciparum (n=32) and Plasmodium vivax (n=6), the two parasites responsible for most human malaria morbidity and mortality, as well as RAP-1 orthologous in closely related malarial species found in non-human primates (NHPs). Overall, genes encoding RAP-1 are highly conserved in all Plasmodium spp. included in this investigation. We found no evidence for natural selection, positive or negative, acting on the gene encoding RAP-1 in P. falciparum or P. vivax. However, we found evidence that the orthologous genes in non-human primate parasites (Plasmodium cynomolgi, Plasmodium inui, and Plasmodium knowlesi) are under purifying (negative) selection. We discuss the importance of considering negative selection while studying genes encoding proteins with low polymorphism and how selective pressures may differ among orthologous genes in closely related malarial parasites species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)655-661
Number of pages7
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Genetic diversity
  • Malaria
  • Merozoite
  • Negative selection
  • Plasmodium
  • Positive selection
  • RAP-1
  • Rhoptry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'Evidence for negative selection on the gene encoding rhoptry-associated protein 1 (RAP-1) in Plasmodium spp.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this