The extended rod-like Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite protein (CSP) is comprised of three primary domains: a charged N terminus that binds heparan sulfate proteoglycans, a central NANP repeat domain, and a C terminus containing a thrombospondin-like type I repeat (TSR) domain. Only the last two domains are incorporated in RTS, S, the leading malaria vaccine in phase 3 trials that, to date, protects about 50% of vaccinated children against clinical disease. A eroepidemiological study indicated that the N-terminal domain might improve the efficacy of a new CSP vaccine. Using a panel of CSP-specific monoclonal antibodies, well-characterized recombinant CSPs, label-free quantitative proteomics, and in vitro inhibition of sporozoite invasion, we show that native CSP is N-terminally processed in the mosquito host and undergoes a reversible conformational change to mask some epitopes in the N- and C-terminal domains until the sporozoite interacts with the liver hepatocyte. Our findings show the importance of understanding processing and the biophysical change in conformation, possibly due to a mechanical or molecular signal, and may aid in the development of a new CSP vaccine.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases