Antibodies elicited by Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite proteins lacking sequentially deleted C-terminal amino acids reveal mouse strain and epitopes specific differences

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Journal Article

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Circumsporozoite protein; Malaria; Plasmodium falciparum; Vaccine


Malaria affects ∼ ¼ billion people globally and requires the development of additional tools to aid in elimination efforts. The recently approved RTS,S/AS01 vaccine represents a positive step, however, the moderate efficacy necessitates the development of more efficacious vaccines. PfCSP is a key target antigen for pre-erythrocytic vaccines aimed at preventing Plasmodium falciparum malaria infections. Epitopes within the central repeat region and at the junction of the repeat and N-terminal domain are well documented as major protective B cell epitopes. On the other hand, a majority of antibodies against the epitopes in the C-terminal domain, have been shown to be non-protective against sporozoite challenge. The C-terminal domain, however, contains CD4 and CD8 T cell epitopes previously shown to be important for regulating immune responses. The present study was designed to further explore the immunomodulatory potential of the C-terminal domain using DNA vaccines encoding PfCSP with sequential C-terminal truncations following known T cell epitopes. Five DNA vaccines encoding different truncations of PfCSP within the C-terminal domain were administered via intramuscular route and in vivo electroporation for effective immunogenicity. Protection in mice was evaluated by challenge with transgenic P. berghei expressing PfCSP. In Balb/c mice, antibody responses and protective efficacy were both affected progressively with sequential deletion of C-terminal amino acid residues. Similar studies in C57Bl/6 mice revealed that immunizations with plasmids encoding truncated PfCSP showed partial protection from sporozoite challenge with no significant differences in antibody titers observed compared to full-length PfCSP DNA immunized mice. Further analysis revealed murine strain-specific differences in the recognition of specific epitopes.


Global Health