In pregnant women infected with Plasmodium falciparum, the infected red blood cells (IRBCs) selectively accumulate in the intervillous spaces of placenta, leading to poor fetal outcome and severe health complications in the mother. Although chondroitin 4-sulfate is known to mediate IRBC adherence to placenta, the natural receptor has not been identified. In the present study, the chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) of human placenta were purified and structurally characterized, and adherence of IRBCs to these CSPGs investigated. The data indicate that the placenta contains three distinct types of CSPGs: significant quantities of uniquely low sulfated, extracellular CSPGs localized in the intervillous spaces, minor amounts of two cell-associated CSPGs, and major amounts of dermatan sulfate-like CSPGs of the fibrous tissue. Of the various CSPGs isolated from the placenta, the low sulfated CSPGs of the intervillous spaces most efficiently bind IRBCs. Based on IRBC adherence capacities and localization patterns of various CSPGs, we conclude that the CSPGs of the intervillous spaces are the receptors for placental IRBC adherence. The identification and characterization of these CSPGs provide a valuable tool for understanding the precise molecular interactions involved in placental IRBC adherence and for the development of therapeutic strategies for maternal malaria. In the accompanying paper (Alkhalil, A., Achur, R. N., Valiyaveetil, M., Ockenhouse, C. F., and Gowda, D. C. (2000) J. Biol. Chem. 275, 40357-40364), we report the structural requirements for the IRBC adherence.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology