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Parassitologia. 1999 Sep;41(1-3):409-14.

Merozoite surface protein 1, immune evasion, and vaccines against asexual blood stage malaria.

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Division of Parasitology, National Institute for Medical Research, London, UK.


There is an urgent need for a vaccine against malaria and proteins on the surface of the merozoite are good targets for development as vaccine candidates because they are exposed to antibody. However, it is possible that the parasite has evolved mechanisms to evade a protective immune response to these proteins. Merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP-1) is a candidate for vaccine development and its C-terminal sequence is the target of protective antibody. MSP-1 is cleaved by proteases in two processing steps, the second step releases the bulk of the protein from the surface and goes to completion during successful red blood cell invasion. Antibodies binding to the C-terminus of Plasmodium falciparum MSP-1 can inhibit both the processing and erythrocyte invasion. Other antibodies that bind to either the C-terminal sequence or elsewhere in the molecule are 'blocking' antibodies, which on binding prevent the binding of the inhibitory antibodies. Blocking antibodies are a mechanism of immune evasion, which may be based on antigenic conservation rather than diversity. This mechanism has a number of implications for the study of protective immunity and the development of malaria vaccines, emphasising the need for appropriate functional assays and careful design of the antigen.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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