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Infect Immun. 1999 Jan;67(1):43-9.

High-level expression of Plasmodium vivax apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA-1) in Pichia pastoris: strong immunogenicity in Macaca mulatta immunized with P. vivax AMA-1 and adjuvant SBAS2.

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  • 1Department of Parasitology, Biomedical Primate Research Centre, Rijswijk, The Netherlands.


The apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA-1) family is a promising family of malaria blood-stage vaccine candidates that have induced protection in rodent and nonhuman primate models of malaria. Correct conformation of the protein appears to be essential for the induction of parasite-inhibitory responses, and these responses appear to be primarily antibody mediated. Here we describe for the first time high-level secreted expression (over 50 mg/liter) of the Plasmodium vivax AMA-1 (PV66/AMA-1) ectodomain by using the methylotrophic yeast Pichia pastoris. To prevent nonnative glycosylation, a conservatively mutagenized PV66/AMA-1 gene (PV66Deltaglyc) lacking N-glycosylation sites was also developed. Expression of the PV66Deltaglyc ectodomain yielded similar levels of a homogeneous product that was nonglycosylated and was readily purified by ion-exchange and gel filtration chromatographies. Recombinant PV66Deltaglyc43-487 was reactive with conformation-dependent monoclonal antibodies. With the SBAS2 adjuvant, Pichia-expressed PV66Deltaglyc43-487 was highly immunogenic in five rhesus monkeys, inducing immunoglobulin G enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay titers in excess of 1:200,000. This group of monkeys had a weak trend showing lower cumulative parasite loads following a Plasmodium cynomolgi infection than in the control group.

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