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J Mol Biol. 1987 May 20;195(2):273-87.

Allelic dimorphism in a surface antigen gene of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Abstract

Merozoites of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum carry surface proteins processed from a precursor termed p190 or p195. Polymorphism has been reported in this protein. Since the protein is a candidate for a malaria vaccine, it is important to understand the nature of this polymorphism. We have determined the complete nucleotide sequence of the p190 gene from the MAD20 strain (a Papua New Guinea isolate). Comparisons of the gene with that from other strains of P. falciparum allowed us to study the genetic basis of the antigen's polymorphism. The gene consists of sequences distributed in variable blocks, which are separated by conserved or semi-conserved sequences. Variable sequences occur both in regions that code for tripeptide repeats and in regions with no apparent repeats. Interestingly, according to the present data, variable sequences are not widely polymorphic but fall into two distinct types. We argue that the p190 protein is encoded by dimorphic alleles capable of limited genetic exchange and present evidence at the nucleotide level documenting intragenic recombination in Plasmodium.

PMID:
3079521
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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