Characterization of Pb51 in Plasmodium berghei as a malaria vaccine candidate targeting both asexual erythrocytic proliferation and transmission

Jian Wang, Wenqi Zheng, Fei Liu, Yaru Wang, Yiwen He, Li Zheng, Qi Fan, Enjie Luo, Yaming Cao, Liwang Cui

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8 Scopus citations


Background: A vaccine that targets multiple developmental stages of malaria parasites would be an effective tool for malaria control and elimination. Methods: A conserved gene in Plasmodium, the Plasmodium berghei gene (PBANKA-020570) encoding a 51 kDa protein (pb51 gene), was identified through search of the PlasmoDB database using a combination of expression and protein localization criteria. A partial domain of the Pb51 protein was expressed in a prokaryotic expression system (rPb51) and used for immunization in mice. The protein expression profile and localization were studied by Western blot and indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA), respectively. The inhibitory effect of the anti-rPb51 antibodies on parasite proliferation was evaluated in erythrocytes in vivo. The transmission-blocking activity of the immune sera was determined by in vitro ookinete conversion assay and by direct mosquito feeding assay (DFA). Results: The rPb51 elicited specific antibodies in mice. Western blot confirmed Pb51 expression in schizonts, gametocytes and ookinetes. IFA showed localization of Pb51 on the outer membranes of schizonts, gametocytes, zygotes, retorts, ookinetes and sporozoites of P. berghei. Mice immunized with the rPb51 protein significantly reduced parasite proliferation and gametocyte conversion in vivo. Moreover, the rPb51 antisera also significantly reduced the in vitro ookinete conversion when added into the ookinete culture medium. In DFA, mice immunized with the rPb51 reduced the prevalence of mosquito infection by 21.3% and oocyst density by 54.8%. Conclusions: In P. berghei, P51 was expressed in both asexual erythrocytic and sexual stages and localized on the surface of these stages with the exception of the ring stage. The anti-rPb51 antibodies inhibited both P. berghei proliferation in mice and transmission of the parasite to mosquitoes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number458
JournalMalaria journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 13 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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