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Infect Immun. 2017 Dec 19;86(1). pii: e00486-17. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00486-17. Print 2018 Jan.

Evaluation of a Plasmodium-Specific Carrier Protein To Enhance Production of Recombinant Pfs25, a Leading Transmission-Blocking Vaccine Candidate.

Author information

1
Center for Molecular Parasitology, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
2
Malaria Immunology Section, Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, Maryland, USA.
3
Center for Molecular Parasitology, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA jmb53@drexel.edu.

Abstract

Challenges with the production and suboptimal immunogenicity of malaria vaccine candidates have slowed the development of a Plasmodium falciparum multiantigen vaccine. Attempting to resolve these issues, we focused on the use of highly immunogenic merozoite surface protein 8 (MSP8) as a vaccine carrier protein. Previously, we showed that a genetic fusion of the C-terminal 19-kDa fragment of merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP119) to P. falciparum MSP8 (PfMSP8) facilitated antigen production and folding and the induction of neutralizing antibodies to conformational B cell epitopes of MSP119 Here, using the PfMSP1/8 construct, we further optimized the recombinant PfMSP8 (rPfMSP8) carrier by the introduction of two cysteine-to-serine substitutions (CΔS) to improve the yield of the monomeric product. We then sought to test the broad applicability of this approach using the transmission-blocking vaccine candidate Pfs25. The production of rPfs25-based vaccines has presented challenges. Antibodies directed against the four highly constrained epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like domains of Pfs25 block sexual-stage development in mosquitoes. The sequence encoding mature Pfs25 was codon harmonized for expression in Escherichia coli We produced a rPfs25-PfMSP8 fusion protein [rPfs25/8(CΔS)] as well as unfused, mature rPfs25. rPfs25 was purified with a modest yield but required the incorporation of refolding protocols to obtain a proper conformation. In comparison, chimeric rPfs25/8(CΔS) was expressed and easily purified, with the Pfs25 domain bearing the proper conformation without renaturation. Both antigens were immunogenic in rabbits, inducing IgG that bound native Pfs25 and exhibited potent transmission-reducing activity. These data further demonstrate the utility of PfMSP8 as a parasite-specific carrier protein to enhance the production of complex malaria vaccine targets.

KEYWORDS:

MSP8 carrier protein; malaria; subunit vaccines; transmission blocking

PMID:
28993460
PMCID:
PMC5736822
DOI:
10.1128/IAI.00486-17
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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