Display Settings:


Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Infect Dis. 2007 Jan 15;195(2):279-87. Epub 2006 Dec 13.

Plasmodium falciparum merozoite surface protein 3 is a target of allele-specific immunity and alleles are maintained by natural selection.

Author information

  • 1Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom.



Plasmodium falciparum merozoite surface protein (MSP) 3 is an asexual blood-stage malaria vaccine candidate antigen. Sequence polymorphisms divide alleles into 2 major types, but the adaptive and immunological significance of the types has not been defined.


One hundred one msp3 allele sequences were sampled from 2 populations living in areas where malaria is endemic and were analyzed for evidence of natural selection. Recombinant antigens representing full-length sequences of different allelic types and a relatively conserved C-terminal region were produced, to evaluate immunization-induced antibody responses in mice and protective associations for naturally acquired antibodies in a cohort of 319 Gambian children under surveillance for malaria.


Frequency-based statistical analyses indicated that polymorphisms are maintained by balancing selection in each of the 2 populations studied. Immunization of mice with full-length MSP3 antigens induced predominantly type-specific antibodies, and a large proportion of naturally acquired antibodies to MSP3 in humans also discriminated between the alleles. Among Gambian children, antibodies to allele-specific and conserved epitopes in MSP3 were associated prospectively with protection from clinical malaria, even after adjustment for age and for the presence of antibodies to other merozoite antigens.


A vaccine incorporating both major allelic types of this promising candidate antigen could be particularly useful for induction of protective immunity in infants and young children.

Comment in

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Publication Types, MeSH Terms, Substances, Secondary Source ID, Grant Support

Publication Types

MeSH Terms


Secondary Source ID

Grant Support

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk