Immunological cross-reactivity between malaria vaccine target antigen P48/45 in plasmodium vivax and P. falciparum and cross-boosting of immune responses

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date











© 2016 Cao et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. In general, malaria immunity has been suggested to be species specific with very little, if any, known cross-reactivity between Plasmodium vivax and P. falciparum, both of which are responsible for >90% of human malaria, and co-endemic in many countries. It is therefore believed that species-specific immunity may be needed to target different species of Plasmodium. Pfs48/45 and Pvs48/45 are well established targets in the sexual stages of the malaria parasites, and are being pursued for the development of transmission blocking vaccines. Comparison of their sequences reveals 61% and 55% identity at the DNA and protein level, respectively raising the possibility that these two target antigens might share cross-reacting epitopes. Having succeeded in expressing recombinant Pfs48/45 and Pvs48/45 proteins, we hypothesized that these proteins will not only exhibit immunological cross-reactivity but also cross-boost immune responses. Mice were immunized with purified recombinant proteins using CFA, Montanide ISA-51 and alum as adjuvants, and the sera were analyzed by ELISA, Western blotting and indirect fixed and live IFA to address the hypothesis. Our studies revealed that Pvs48/45-immune sera showed strong crossreactivity to full length Pfs48/45 protein, and the majority of this cross reactivity was in the amino-terminal and carboxyl-terminal sub-fragments of Pfs48/45. In cross-boosting experiments Pfs48/45 and Pvs48/45 antigens were able to cross-boost each other in mouse immunization studies. Additionally we also noticed an effect of adjuvants in the overall magnitude of observed cross-reactivity. These studies may have significant implications for immunity targeting transmission of both the species of malaria parasites.