A study of recombinant Plasmodium falciparum PFC0760c.
Viljoen, Jacqueline Ethel.
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Malaria is a devastating disease caused by one of the world's most pathogenic parasites, Plasmodium. Five species of Plasmodium infect humans: P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, P. malariae and P. knowlesi. P. falciparum is the most pathogenic and causes the greatest numbers of deaths. To date, no licensed vaccine against malaria is available, although there are numerous vaccine candidates in various stages of development. Pca 96 is a 96 kDa Plasmodium chabaudi adami protein shown to have a protective property in mice challenged with P. chabaudi adami. Thus, a P. falciparum orthologue of Pca 96 may be useful in vaccine development. BLAST searches with the Pca 96 amino acid and nucleotide sequences revealed proteins with high sequence identity to Pca 96 including the hypothetical P. falciparum PFC0760c and P. yoelii yoelii PY05757 proteins. A peptide sequence FKLGSCYLYIINRNLKEI was found to be conserved in all homologues of Pca 96, including PFC0760c, PY05757 and in the sequences of proteins from 5 other Plasmodium species. Bioinformatic approaches were explored to attempt to find a possible role of the protein and the possible importance of the conserved sequence. The conserved sequence was predicted to be an alpha helix and to contain possible HLA-DRB1*1101 and HLA-DRB1*0401(Dr4Dw4) T-cell epitopes (GSCYLYIINRNLKEI) in addition to a possible H2-Kd T-cell epitope (CYLYIINRNL). Protein-protein interaction predictions revealed that PFC0760c was likely to interact with proteins involved with nucleic acid binding. PFC0760c was predicted to have a domain found in proteins involved in the structural maintenance of chromosomes, which may suggest the protein is involved in chromatid cohesion during mitotic chromosome condensation. PFC0760c was also predicted to be located in the nucleus by the sub cellular prediction program, SubLoc. Anti-peptide antibodies were raised against the conserved amino acid sequence and against a peptide specific for PY05757 (SDDDNRQIQDFE). Both antibodies detected native antigens with immunofluorescence microscopy. The fluorescent signal appeared throughout the parasite cytoplasm and as an intense signal in the parasite nucleus. These immunofluorescence data supports the predicted nuclear location of the protein. A 822 bp portion of PFC0760c gene was expressed as a maltose-binding protein fusion protein (Pf33-MBP). Pf33-MBP was expressed and purified. Reducing SDS-PAGE and western blotting analysis revealed the fusion protein to be expressed at low levels as four bands (79, 60, 45 and 37 kDa). The purified fusion protein was cleaved with Factor Xa. MBP and Pf33 were of similar molecular mass after cleavage. To attempt to obtain better expression and purification, the 822 bp insert from pTS822 was sub-cloned into pGEX4T1. A glutathione-S-transferase (GST)-fusion protein (Pf33-GST) was expressed. The level of expression was poor and therefore not pursued. To take the study further, potential proteins that interact with PFC0760c and Pf33 need to be identified. In addition, immunisation of mice with the protein and subsequent Plasmodium challenge needs to be performed to ascertain the protective potential of the protein.