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      Llama immunization with full-length VAR2CSA generates cross-reactive and inhibitory single-domain antibodies against the DBL1X domain


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          VAR2CSA stands today as the leading vaccine candidate aiming to protect future pregnant women living in malaria endemic areas against the severe clinical outcomes of pregnancy associated malaria (PAM). The rational design of an efficient VAR2CSA-based vaccine relies on a profound understanding of the molecular interactions associated with P. falciparum infected erythrocyte sequestration in the placenta. Following immunization of a llama with the full-length VAR2CSA recombinant protein, we have expressed and characterized a panel of 19 nanobodies able to recognize the recombinant VAR2CSA as well as the surface of erythrocytes infected with parasites originating from different parts of the world. Domain mapping revealed that a large majority of nanobodies targeted DBL1X whereas a few of them were directed towards DBL4ε, DBL5ε and DBL6ε. One nanobody targeting the DBL1X was able to recognize the native VAR2CSA protein of the three parasite lines tested. Furthermore, four nanobodies targeting DBL1X reproducibly inhibited CSA adhesion of erythrocytes infected with the homologous NF54-CSA parasite strain, providing evidences that DBL1X domain is part or close to the CSA binding site. These nanobodies could serve as useful tools to identify conserved epitopes shared between different variants and to characterize the interactions between VAR2CSA and CSA.

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          Most cited references 41

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          Plasmodium falciparum can now be maintained in continuous culture in human erythrocytes incubated at 38 degrees C in RPMI 1640 medium with human serum under an atmosphere with 7 percent carbon dioxide and low oxygen (1 or 5 percent). The original parasite material, derived from an infected Aotus trivirgatus monkey, was diluted more than 100 million times by the addition of human erythrocytes at 3- or 4-day intervals. The parasites continued to reproduce in their normal asexual cycle of approximately 48 hours but were no longer highly synchronous. The have remained infective to Aotus.
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            Women are particularly susceptible to malaria during first and second pregnancies, even though they may have developed immunity over years of residence in endemic areas. Plasmodium falciparum-infected red blood cells (IRBCs) were obtained from human placentas. These IRBCs bound to purified chondroitin sulfate A (CSA) but not to other extracellular matrix proteins or to other known IRBC receptors. IRBCs from nonpregnant donors did not bind to CSA. Placental IRBCs adhered to sections of fresh-frozen human placenta with an anatomic distribution similar to that of naturally infected placentas, and this adhesion was competitively inhibited by purified CSA. Thus, adhesion to CSA appears to select for a subpopulation of parasites that causes maternal malaria.
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              Cloning the P. falciparum gene encoding PfEMP1, a malarial variant antigen and adherence receptor on the surface of parasitized human erythrocytes.

              Plasmodium falciparum-infected human erythrocytes evade host immunity by expression of a cell-surface variant antigen and receptors for adherence to endothelial cells. These properties have been ascribed to P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1), an antigenically diverse malarial protein of 200-350 kDa on the surface of parasitized erythrocytes (PEs). We describe the cloning of two related PfEMP1 genes from the Malayan Camp (MC) parasite strain. Antibodies generated against recombinant protein fragments of the genes were specific for MC strain PfEMP1 protein. These antibodies reacted only with the surface of MC strain PEs and blocked adherence of these cells to CD36 but without effect on adherence to thrombospondin. Multiple forms of the PfEMP1 gene are apparent in MC parasites. The molecular basis for antigenic variation in malaria and adherence of infected erythrocytes to host cells can now be pursued.

                Author and article information

                Sci Rep
                Sci Rep
                Scientific Reports
                Nature Publishing Group
                09 December 2014
                : 4
                [1 ]Inserm UMR_1134 , Paris, France
                [2 ]Université Paris Diderot , Sorbonne Paris Cité, UMR_S1134 Paris, France
                [3 ]Institut National de la Transfusion Sanguine , Paris, France
                [4 ]Laboratory of excellence GR-Ex , Paris, France
                [5 ]VIB, Structural Biology Research Center , Brussels, Belgium
                [6 ]Structural Biology Brussels, Vrije Universiteit Brussel , Belgium
                [7 ]Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology, Karolinska Institutet , Stockholm, Sweden
                Author notes
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