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Future Microbiol. 2010 Apr;5(4):663-82. doi: 10.2217/fmb.10.21.

Small variant surface antigens and Plasmodium evasion of immunity.

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  • 1Nanyang Technological University, School of Biological Sciences, 60 Nanyang Drive, Singapore 637551, Singapore. noel0003@ntu.edu.sg

Abstract

Antigenic variation at the Plasmodium-infected erythrocyte surface plays a critical role in malaria disease severity and host immune evasion. Our current understanding of the role of Plasmodium variant surface antigens in antigenic variation and immune evasion is largely limited to the extensive work carried out on the Plasmodium falciparum var gene family. Although homologues of var genes are not present in other malaria species, small variant gene families comprising the rif and stevor genes in P. falciparum and the pir genes in Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium knowlesi and the rodent malaria Plasmodium chabaudi, Plasmodium berghei and Plasmodium yoelii also show features suggesting a role in antigenic variation and immune evasion. In this article, we highlight our current understanding of these variant antigens and provide insights on the mechanisms developed by malaria parasites to effectively avoid the host immune response and establish chronic infection.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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