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J Immunol. 1996 Apr 15;156(8):2874-84.

A novel Plasmodium falciparum sporozoite and liver stage antigen (SALSA) defines major B, T helper, and CTL epitopes.

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Biomedical Parasitology, Pasteur Institute, Paris, France.


In the search for subunit vaccines that are able to induce the type of sterile, protective immunity achieved by irradiated sporozoites, there is increasing evidence that defense mechanisms directed at the intrahepatic stage and Ags expressed at this stage are critical. We have initiated a systematic search for such molecules and report here the identification and partial characterization of a novel Plasmodium falciparum gene encoding a 70-kDa protein, expressed in both sporozoite and liver stages (SALSA), with a vaccine potential that stems from its antigenic features. Antigenicity and immunogenicity studies were conducted in individuals exposed to malaria, in immunized mice, and in chimpanzees, using a recombinant protein and two synthetic peptides. Results show that the SALSA nonrepetitive sequence defines 1) major B cell epitopes, as shown by a high prevalence of Abs to each peptide in three African areas differing in their level of endemicity; 2) Th epitopes, as demonstrated by lymphoproliferation and IFN-gamma secretion in cells from the individuals from one of the low transmission areas, as well as helper effect upon Ab secretion in mice; and 3) epitopes for cytolytic lymphocytes, demonstrated in immunized and sporozoite-challenged chimpanzees, and associated with MHC class I leukocyte Ags. The latter are of particular importance, because this is the only part of the malaria life cycle in which the parasite is located in a cell expressing class I Ags and because CD8+ lymphocytes were found to be responsible for protection in experimental models.

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