close Icon

The dual action of human antibodies specific to Plasmodium falciparum PfRH5 and PfCyRPA: Blocking invasion and inactivating extracellular merozoites.

Weiss GE, Ragotte RJ, Quinkert D, Lias AM, Dans MG, Boulet C, Looker O, Ventura OD, Williams BG, Crabb BS, Draper SJ, Gilson PR

  • Journal PLoS pathogens

  • Published 15 Sep 2023

  • Volume 19

  • ISSUE 9

  • Pagination e1011182

  • DOI 10.1371/journal.ppat.1011182


The Plasmodium falciparum reticulocyte-binding protein homolog 5 (PfRH5) is the current leading blood-stage malaria vaccine candidate. PfRH5 functions as part of the pentameric PCRCR complex containing PTRAMP, CSS, PfCyRPA and PfRIPR, all of which are essential for infection of human red blood cells (RBCs). To trigger RBC invasion, PfRH5 engages with RBC protein basigin in a step termed the RH5-basigin binding stage. Although we know increasingly more about how antibodies specific for PfRH5 can block invasion, much less is known about how antibodies recognizing other members of the PCRCR complex can inhibit invasion. To address this, we performed live cell imaging using monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) which bind PfRH5 and PfCyRPA. We measured the degree and timing of the invasion inhibition, the stage at which it occurred, as well as subsequent events. We show that parasite invasion is blocked by individual mAbs, and the degree of inhibition is enhanced when combining a mAb specific for PfRH5 with one binding PfCyRPA. In addition to directly establishing the invasion-blocking capacity of the mAbs, we identified a secondary action of certain mAbs on extracellular parasites that had not yet invaded where the mAbs appeared to inactivate the parasites by triggering a developmental pathway normally only seen after successful invasion. These findings suggest that epitopes within the PfCyRPA-PfRH5 sub-complex that elicit these dual responses may be more effective immunogens than neighboring epitopes by both blocking parasites from invading and rapidly inactivating extracellular parasites. These two protective mechanisms, prevention of invasion and inactivation of uninvaded parasites, resulting from antibody to a single epitope indicate a possible route to the development of more effective vaccines.