Interspersed blocks of repetitive and charged amino acids in a dominant immunogen of Plasmodium falciparum

H. D. Stahl, P. E. Crewther, R. F. Anders, G. V. Brown, R. L. Coppel, A. E. Bianco, G. F. Mitchell, D. J. Kemp

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We describe an antigen of Plasmodium falciparum that is a dominant immunogen in man. The corresponding cDNA clone, Ag231, expressing this antigen in Escherichia coli reacted in an in situ colony assay with sera from up to ~93% of 65 people living in an area in which P. falciparum is endemic. Human antibodies affinity purified on immobilized Ag231 lysates identified the corresponding parasite antigen as a polypeptide of M(r) ~300,000. It was present in schizonts and also in ring-stage trophozoites, where a speckled immunofluorescence pattern suggested an association with the erythrocyte. Its mRNA was enriched in merozoites relative to other blood stages, a distinctive property shared by a recently described antigen located on the surface of ring-infected erythrocytes, and it is encoded by a single gene having a number of allelic variants. The complete nucleotide sequence of Ag231 revealed a structural unit composed of 13 hexapeptide repeats flanked by a highly charged region containing both acidic and basic amino acids. This structural unit is itself repeated, so that blocks of repeats and charged units are interspersed along the molecule. The sequences within the repeats vary much more extensively than those in the charged units.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-547
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 1985
Externally publishedYes

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