- Reviewing EditorSebastian LouridoWhitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, United States of America
- Senior EditorDominique Soldati-FavreUniversity of Geneva, Switzerland
Reviewer #1 (Public Review):
Summary: The authors investigated the function of Microrchidia (MORC) proteins in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Recognizing MORC's implication in DNA compaction and gene silencing across diverse species, the study aimed to explore the influence of PfMORC on transcriptional regulation, life cycle progression and survival of the malaria parasite. Depletion of PfMORC leads to the collapse of heterochromatin and thus to the killing of the parasite. The potential regulatory role of PfMORC in the survival of the parasite suggests that it may be central to the development of new antimalarial strategies.
Strengths: The application of the cutting-edge CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing tool, combined with other molecular and genomic approaches, provides a robust methodology. Comprehensive ChIP-seq experiments indicate PfMORC's interaction with sub-telomeric areas and genes tied to antigenic variation, suggesting its pivotal role in stage transition. The incorporation of Hi-C studies is noteworthy, enabling the visualization of changes in chromatin conformation in response to PfMORC knockdown.
Weaknesses: Although disruption of PfMORC affects chromatin architecture and stage-specific gene expression, determining a direct cause-effect relationship requires further investigation. Furthermore, while numerous interacting partners have been identified, their validation is critical and understanding their role in directing MORC to its targets or in influencing the chromatin compaction activities of MORC is essential for further clarification. In addition, the authors should adjust their conclusions in the manuscript to more accurately represent the multifaceted functions of MORC in the parasite.
Reviewer #2 (Public Review):
Summary: This paper, titled "Regulation of Chromatin Accessibility and Transcriptional Repression by PfMORC Protein in Plasmodium falciparum," delves into the PfMORC protein's role during the intra-erythrocytic cycle of the malaria parasite, P. falciparum. Le Roch et al. examined PfMORC's interactions with proteins, its genomic distribution in different parasite life stages (rings, trophozoites, schizonts), and the transcriptome's response to PfMORC depletion. They conducted a chromatin conformation capture on PfMORC-depleted parasites and observed significant alterations. Furthermore, they demonstrated that PfMORC depletion is lethal to the parasite.
Strengths: This study significantly advances our understanding of PfMORC's role in establishing heterochromatin. The direct consequences of the PfMORC depletion are addressed using chromatin conformation capture.
Weaknesses: The study only partially addressed the direct effects of PfMORC depletion on other heterochromatin markers.