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J Mol Biol. 2001 Apr 13;307(5):1381-94.

Inhibitory and blocking monoclonal antibody epitopes on merozoite surface protein 1 of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.

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Division of Parasitology, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington, DC, USA.


Merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP-1) is a precursor to major antigens on the surface of Plasmodium spp. merozoites, which are involved in erythrocyte binding and invasion. MSP-1 is initially processed into smaller fragments; and at the time of erythrocyte invasion one of these of 42 kDa (MSP-1(42)) is subjected to a second processing, producing 33 kDa and 19 kDa fragments (MSP-1(33) and MSP-1(19)). Certain MSP-1-specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) react with conformational epitopes contained within the two epidermal growth factor domains that comprise MSP-1(19), and are classified as either inhibitory (inhibit processing of MSP-1(42) and erythrocyte invasion), blocking (block the binding and function of the inhibitory mAb), or neutral (neither inhibitory nor blocking). We have mapped the epitopes for inhibitory mAbs 12.8 and 12.10, and blocking mAbs such as 1E1 and 7.5 by using site-directed mutagenesis to change specific amino acid residues in MSP-1(19) and abolish antibody binding, and by using PEPSCAN to measure the reaction of the antibodies with every octapeptide within MSP-1(42). Twenty-six individual amino acid residue changes were made and the effect of each on the binding of mAbs was assessed by Western blotting and BIAcore analysis. Individual changes had either no effect, or reduced, or completely abolished the binding of individual mAbs. No two antibodies had an identical pattern of reactivity with the modified proteins. Using PEPSCAN each mAb reacted with a number of octapeptides, most of which were derived from within the first epidermal growth factor domain, although 1E1 also reacted with peptides spanning the processing site. When the single amino acid changes and the reactive peptides were mapped onto the three-dimensional structure of MSP-1(19), it was apparent that the epitopes for the mAbs could be defined more fully by using a combination of both mutagenesis and PEPSCAN than by either method alone, and differences in the fine specificity of binding for all the different antibodies could be distinguished. The incorporation of several specific amino acid changes enabled the design of proteins that bound inhibitory but not blocking antibodies. These may be suitable for the development of MSP-1-based vaccines against malaria.

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