Human antibodies to the block 2 region of Plasmodium falciparum merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1) are associated with a reduced prospective risk of clinical malaria. Block 2 is highly polymorphic, but all known alleles can be grouped into three major types. Two of these types (the K1-like and MAD20-like types) contain type-specific sequences (found in all alleles of a particular type) that flank polymorphic tripeptide repeats. These repeats contain both type-specific and subtype-specific sequences. To evaluate the antibody recognition of these parts of block 2, a new panel of six recombinant proteins was used (fused type-specific flanking sequences and two representative repeat sequences for each of the K1-like and MAD20-like types separately). Extensive testing of these antigens and full-length block 2 antigens showed that human serum immunoglobulin G antibodies induced by infection can recognize (i) type-specific epitopes in the repeats, (ii) subtype-specific epitopes in the repeats, or (iii) type-specific epitopes in flanking sequences. A large prospective study in The Gambia showed that antibodies to the repeats are strongly associated with protection from clinical malaria. The results are important for design of a vaccine to induce protective antibodies, and they address hypotheses about repeat sequences in malaria antigens.
- AOTUS MONKEYS
- ANTIGEN GENE