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MSP1(19) miniproteins can serve as targets for invasion inhibitory antibodies in Plasmodium falciparum provided they contain the correct domains for cell surface trafficking.

Gilson PR, O'Donnell RA, Nebl T, Sanders PR, Wickham ME, McElwain TF, de Koning-Ward TF, Crabb BS

  • Journal Molecular microbiology

  • Published 03 Jul 2008

  • Volume 68

  • ISSUE 1

  • Pagination 124-38

  • DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2008.06140.x


Antibodies from malaria-exposed individuals can agglutinate merozoites released from Plasmodium schizonts, thereby preventing them from invading new erythrocytes. Merozoite coat proteins attached to the plasma membrane are major targets for host antibodies and are therefore considered important malaria vaccine candidates. Prominent among these is the abundant glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1) and particularly its C-terminal fragment (MSP1(19)) comprised of two epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like modules. In this paper, we revisit the role of agglutination and immunity using transgenic fluorescent marker proteins. We describe expression of heterologous MSP1(19)'miniproteins' on the surface of Plasmodium falciparum merozoites. To correctly express these proteins, we determined that GPI-anchoring and the presence of a signal sequence do not allow default export of proteins from the endoplasmic reticulum to merozoite surface and that extra sequence elements are required. The EGFs are insufficient for correct trafficking unless they are fused to additional residues that normally reside upstream of this fragment. Antibodies specifically targeting the surface-expressed miniprotein can inhibit erythrocyte invasion in vitro despite the presence of endogenous MSP1. Using a line expressing a green fluorescent protein-MSP1 fusion protein, we demonstrate that one mode of inhibition by antibodies targeting the MSP1(19) domain is the rapid agglutinating of merozoites prior to erythrocyte attachment.