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Infect Genet Evol. 2013 Dec;20:270-5. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2013.09.013. Epub 2013 Sep 18.

Quantifying variation in the potential for antibody-mediated apparent competition among nine genotypes of the rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium chabaudi.

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Institutes of Evolution, Immunology and Infection Research, School of Biological Sciences, King's Buildings, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK. Electronic address:


Within-host competition among parasite genotypes affects epidemiology as well as the evolution of virulence. In the rodent malaria Plasmodium chabaudi, competition among genotypes, as well as clone-specific and clone-transcending immunity are well documented. However, variation among genotypes in the induction of antibodies is not well understood, despite the important role of antibodies in the clearance of malaria infection. Here, we quantify the potential for antibodies induced by one clone to bind another (i.e., to cause antibody-mediated apparent competition) for nine genetically distinct P. chabaudi clones. We hypothesised that clones would vary in the strength of antibody induction, and that the propensity for clone-transcending immunity between a pair of clones would increase with increasing genetic relatedness at key antigenic loci. Using serum collected from mice 35 days post-infection, we measured titres of antibody to an unrelated antigen, Keyhole Limpet Haemocyanin (KLH), and two malaria antigens: recombinant Apical Membrane Antigen-1 (AMA-1) and Merozoite Surface Protein-119 (MSP-119). Amino acid sequence homology within each antigenic locus was used as a measure of relatedness. We found significant parasite genetic variation for the strength of antibody induction. We also found that relatedness at MSP-119 but not AMA-1 predicted clone-transcending binding. Our results help explain the outcome of chronic-phase mixed infections and generate testable predictions about the pairwise competitive ability of P. chabaudi clones.


Antibody; Cross-reactivity; Mixed infection; Plasmodium chabaudi; Virulence evolution; Within-host competition

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