The RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine encompasses the central repeats and C-terminal of Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite protein (PfCSP). Although no Phase II clinical trial studies observed evidence of strain-specific immunity, recent studies show a decrease in vaccine efficacy against non-vaccine strain parasites. In light of goals to reduce malaria morbidity, anticipating the effectiveness of RTS,S/AS01 is critical to planning widespread vaccine introduction. We deep sequenced C-terminal Pfcsp from 77 individuals living along the international border in Luapula Province, Zambia and Haut-Katanga Province, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and compared translated amino acid haplotypes to the 3D7 vaccine strain. Only 5.2% of the 193 PfCSP sequences from the Zambia-DRC border region matched 3D7 at all 84 amino acids. To further contextualize the genetic diversity sampled in this study with global PfCSP diversity, we analyzed an additional 3,809 Pfcsp sequences from the Pf3k database and constructed a haplotype network representing 15 countries from Africa and Asia. The diversity observed in our samples was similar to the diversity observed in the global haplotype network. These observations underscore the need for additional research assessing genetic diversity in P. falciparum and the impact of PfCSP diversity on RTS,S/AS01 efficacy.
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