Host susceptibility to malaria in human and mice: Compatible approaches to identify potential resistant genes

Maria Hernandez-Valladares, Pascal Rihet, Fuad A. Iraqi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


There is growing evidence for human genetic factors controlling the outcome of malaria infection, while molecular basis of this genetic control is still poorly understood. Case-control and family-based studies have been carried out to identify genes underlying host susceptibility to malarial infection. Parasitemia and mild malaria have been genetically linked to human chromosomes 5q31-q33 and 6p21.3, and several immune genes located within those regions have been associated with malaria-related phenotypes. Association and linkage studies of resistance to malaria are not easy to carry out in human populations, because of the difficulty in surveying a significant number of families. Murine models have proven to be an excellent genetic tool for studying host response to malaria; their use allowed mapping 14 resistance loci, eight of them controlling parasitic levels and six controlling cerebral malaria. Once quantitative trait loci or genes have been identified, the human ortholog may then be identified. Comparative mapping studies showed that a couple of human and mouse might share similar genetically controlled mechanisms of resistance. In this way, char8, which controls parasitemia, was mapped on chromosome 11; char8 corresponds to human chromosome 5q31-q33 and contains immune genes, such as Il3, Il4, Il5, Il12b, Il13, Irf1, and Csf2. Nevertheless, part of the genetic factors controlling malaria traits might differ in both hosts because of specific hostpathogen interactions. Finally, novel genetic tools including animal models were recently developed and will offer new opportunities for identifying genetic factors underlying host phenotypic response to malaria, which will help in better therapeutic strategies including vaccine and drug development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalPhysiological Genomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Genetic resistance
  • Human
  • Malaria
  • Mouse model
  • QT mapping


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