The Structure of Plasmodium falciparum Blood-Stage 6-Cys Protein Pf41 Reveals an Unexpected Intra-Domain Insertion Required for Pf12 Coordination.
ABSTRACT: Plasmodium falciparum is an apicomplexan parasite and the etiological agent of severe human malaria. The complex P. falciparum life cycle is supported by a diverse repertoire of surface proteins including the family of 6-Cys s48/45 antigens. Of these, Pf41 is localized to the surface of the blood-stage merozoite through its interaction with the glycophosphatidylinositol-anchored Pf12. Our recent structural characterization of Pf12 revealed two juxtaposed 6-Cys domains (D1 and D2). Pf41, however, contains an additional segment of 120 residues predicted to form a large spacer separating its two 6-Cys domains. To gain insight into the assembly mechanism and overall architecture of the Pf12-Pf41 complex, we first determined the 2.45 Å resolution crystal structure of Pf41 using zinc single-wavelength anomalous dispersion. Structural analysis revealed an unexpected domain organization where the Pf41 6-Cys domains are, in fact, intimately associated and the additional residues instead map predominately to an inserted domain-like region (ID) located between two β-strands in D1. Notably, the ID is largely proteolyzed in the final structure suggesting inherent flexibility. To assess the contribution of the ID to complex formation, we engineered a form of Pf41 where the ID was replaced by a short glycine-serine linker and showed by isothermal titration calorimetry that binding to Pf12 was abrogated. Finally, protease protection assays showed that the proteolytic susceptibility of the ID was significantly reduced in the complex, consistent with the Pf41 ID directly engaging Pf12. Collectively, these data establish the architectural organization of Pf41 and define an essential role for the Pf41 ID in promoting assembly of the Pf12-Pf41 heterodimeric complex.
Project description:Plasmodium falciparum is the most devastating agent of human malaria. A major contributor to its virulence is a complex lifecycle with multiple parasite forms, each presenting a different repertoire of surface antigens. Importantly, members of the 6-Cys s48/45 family of proteins are found on the surface of P. falciparum in every stage, and several of these antigens have been investigated as vaccine targets. Pf12 is the archetypal member of the 6-Cys protein family, containing just two s48/45 domains, whereas other members have up to 14 of these domains. Pf12 is strongly recognized by immune sera from naturally infected patients. Here we show that Pf12 is highly conserved and under purifying selection. Immunofluorescence data reveals a punctate staining pattern with an apical organization in late schizonts. Together, these data are consistent with an important functional role for Pf12 in parasite-host cell attachment or invasion. To infer the structural and functional diversity between Pf12 and the other 11 6-Cys domain proteins, we solved the 1.90 Å resolution crystal structure of the Pf12 ectodomain. Structural analysis reveals a unique organization between the membrane proximal and membrane distal domains and clear homology with the SRS-domain containing proteins of Toxoplasma gondii. Cross-linking and mass spectrometry confirm the previously identified Pf12-Pf41 heterodimeric complex, and analysis of individual cross-links supports an unexpected antiparallel organization. Collectively, the localization and structure of Pf12 and details of its interaction with Pf41 reveal important insight into the structural and functional properties of this archetypal member of the 6-Cys protein family.
Project description:The s48/45 domain was first noted in Plasmodium proteins more than 15 y ago. Previously believed to be unique to Plasmodium, the s48/45 domain is present in other aconoidasidans. In Plasmodium, members of the s48/45 family of proteins are localized on the surface of the parasite in different stages, mostly by glycosylphosphatydylinositol-anchoring. Members such as P52 and P36 seem to play a role in invasion of hepatocytes, and Pfs230 and Pfs48/45 are involved in fertilization in the sexual stages and have been consistently studied as targets of transmission-blocking vaccines for years. In this report, we present the molecular structure for the s48/45 domain corresponding to the C-terminal domain of the blood-stage protein Pf12 from Plasmodium falciparum, obtained by NMR. Our results indicate that this domain is a β-sandwich formed by two sheets with a mixture of parallel and antiparallel strands. Of the six conserved cysteines, two pairs link the β-sheets by two disulfide bonds, and the third pair forms a bond outside the core. The structure of the s48/45 domain conforms well to the previously defined surface antigen 1 (SAG1)-related-sequence (SRS) fold observed in the SAG family of surface antigens found in Toxoplasma gondii. Despite extreme sequence divergence, remarkable spatial conservation of one of the disulfide bonds is observed, supporting the hypothesis that the domains have evolved from a common ancestor. Furthermore, a homologous domain is present in ephrins, raising the possibility that the precursor of the s48/45 and SRS domains emerged from an ancient transfer to Apicomplexa from metazoan hosts.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The development of malaria vaccine has been hindered by the allele-specific responses produced by some parasite antigens' high genetic diversity. Such antigen genetic diversity must thus be evaluated when designing a completely effective vaccine. Plasmodium falciparum P12, P38 and P41 proteins have red blood cell binding regions in the s48/45 domains and are located on merozoite surface, P41 forming a heteroduplex with P12. These three genes have been identified in Plasmodium vivax and share similar characteristics with their orthologues in Plasmodium falciparum. Plasmodium vivax pv12 and pv38 have low genetic diversity but pv41 polymorphism has not been described. METHODS: The present study was aimed at evaluating the P. vivax p41 (pv41) gene's polymorphism. DNA sequences from Colombian clinical isolates from pv41 gene were analysed for characterising and studying the genetic diversity and the evolutionary forces that produced the variation pattern so observed. RESULTS: Similarly to other members of the 6-Cys family, pv41 had low genetic polymorphism. pv41 3'-end displayed the highest nucleotide diversity value; several substitutions found there were under positive selection. Negatively selected codons at inter-species level were identified in the s48/45 domains; p41 would thus seem to have functional/structural constraints due to the presence of these domains. CONCLUSIONS: In spite of the functional constraints of Pv41 s48/45 domains, immune system pressure seems to have allowed non-synonymous substitutions to become fixed within them as an adaptation mechanism; including Pv41 s48/45 domains in a vaccine should thus be carefully evaluated due to these domains containing some allele variants.
Project description:Introduction:The zoonotic malaria parasite Plasmodium knowlesi has currently become the most dominant form of infection in humans in Malaysia and is an emerging infectious disease in most Southeast Asian countries. The P41 is a merozoite surface protein belonging to the 6-cysteine family and is a well-characterized vaccine candidate in P. vivax and P. falciparum; however, no study has been done in the orthologous gene of P. knowlesi. This study investigates the level of polymorphism, haplotypes and natural selection of pk41 genes in clinical isolates from Malaysia. Method:Thirty-five full-length pk41 sequences from clinical isolates of Malaysia along with four laboratory lines (along with H-strain) were downloaded from public databases. For comparative analysis between species, orthologous P41 genes from P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. coatneyi and P. cynomolgi were also downloaded. Genetic diversity, polymorphism, haplotype and natural selection were determined using DnaSP 5.10 software. Phylogenetic relationships between Pk41 genes were determined using MEGA 5.0 software. Results:Analysis of 39 full-length pk41 sequences along with the H-strain identified 36 SNPs (20 non-synonymous and 16 synonymous substitutions) resulting in 31 haplotypes. Nucleotide diversity across the full-length gene was low and was similar to its ortholog in P. vivax; pv41. Domain-wise amino acid analysis of the two s48/45 domains indicated low level of polymorphisms for both the domains, and the glutamic acid rich region had extensive size variations. In the central domain, upstream to the glutamate rich region, a unique two to six (K-E)n repeat region was identified within the clinical isolates. Overall, the pk41 genes were indicative of negative/purifying selection due to functional constraints. Domain-wise analysis of the s48/45 domains also indicated purifying selection. However, analysis of Tajima's D across the genes identified non-synonymous SNPs in the s48/45 domain II with high positive values indicating possible epitope binding regions. All the 6-cysteine residues within the s48/45 domains were conserved within the clinical isolates indicating functional conservation of these regions. Phylogenetic analysis of full-length pk41 genes indicated geographical clustering and identified three subpopulations of P. knowlesi; one originating in the laboratory lines and two originating from Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. Conclusion:This is the first study to report on the polymorphism and natural selection of pk41 genes from clinical isolates of Malaysia. The results reveal that there is low level of polymorphism in both s48/45 domains, indicating that this antigen could be a potential vaccine target. However, genetic and molecular immunology studies involving higher number of samples from various parts of Malaysia would be necessary to validate this antigen's candidacy as a vaccine target for P. knowlesi.
Project description:During their life cycle Plasmodium parasites rely upon an arsenal of proteins that establish key interactions with the host and vector, and between the parasite sexual stages, with the purpose of ensuring infection, reproduction and proliferation. Among these is a group of secreted or membrane-anchored proteins known as the six-cysteine (6-cys) family. This is a small but important family with only 14 members thus far identified, each stage-specifically expressed during the parasite life cycle. 6-cys proteins often localise at the parasite surface or interface with the host and vector, and are conserved in different Plasmodium species. The unifying feature of the family is the s48/45 domain, presumably involved in adhesion and structurally related to Ephrins, the ligands of Eph receptors. The most prominent s48/45 members are currently under functional investigation and are being pursued as vaccine candidates. In this review, we examine what is known about the 6-cys family, their structure and function, and discuss future research directions.
Project description:Ps230 is the largest representative of a 10-member family of proteins found in all Plasmodium species. The family is defined by partially conserved, cysteine-rich double domains that are approximately 350 aa in length and have one to three predicted disulfide bridges in each half. In Plasmodium falciparum, the most dangerous human malaria, Pf12 is the smallest member of the family, comprising just one double domain. Pfs230, with 7 double domains, and Pfs48/45 and Pfs47, with 1.5 double domains each, are found on the gamete surfaces and are thus potential candidates for a transmission-blocking vaccine. Fold prediction analyses of the double domains in Pfs230 reveal structural resemblance to SAG1 (surface antigen 1), a surface protein with a double beta-sandwich structure from another apicomplexan parasite, Toxoplasma gondii. Template-directed modeling onto SAG1 clearly establishes the structural link between SAG1 and Pfs230 and produces positions for the cysteines that accord with the disulfide-bonding arrangement predicted for the Pfs230 family in earlier work. A highly clustered region of polymorphisms within the second double domain in Pfs230 maps to one side of the sandwich surface. This observation suggests that this region may be functional and reinforces the validity of these molecular models for the core domains of the Pfs230 family of proteins.
Project description:Human mucin gene MUC5AC is clustered with MUC2, MUC5B and MUC6 on chromosome 11p15.5. We report here the full length cDNA sequence upstream of the repetitive region of human MUC5AC. We have also determined the sequence of its large central tandem repeat array. The 5'-region reveals high degree of sequence similarity with MUC2 and MUC5B and codes for 1336 amino acids organized into a signal peptide, four pro-von Willebrand factor-like D domains (D1, D2, D' and D3) and a short domain which connects to the central repetitive region. In the central region, 17 major domains have been identified. Nine code for cysteine-rich domains (Cys-domains 1-9) and exhibit high sequence similarity to the cysteine-rich domains described in the central region of MUC2 and MUC5B. Cys-domains 1-5 are interspersed by domains enriched with serine, threonine, and proline residues. Cys-domains 1-9 are interspersed by four domains (TR1-TR4) composed of various numbers of MUC5AC-type repeats. Southern-blot analyses reveal allelic variations both in length and nucleotide sequence. The length polymorphism which is due to variable numbers of tandem repeats is located in TR1 and TR4, whereas a mutation polymorphism detected with TaqI is located in Cys-domain 6. In this study, the organization of MUC5AC has been entirely elucidated showing extensive similarity to the other chromosome 11p15 MUC genes, particularly MUC5B, and providing additional arguments for common evolution from a single ancestral gene.
Project description:Prompt and accurate diagnosis of malarial patients is a crucial factor in controlling the morbidity and mortality of the disease. Effective treatment decisions require a correct diagnosis among mixed-species malarial patients. Differential diagnosis is particularly important in cases of Plasmodium vivax, a species that shares endemicity with P. falciparum in most endemic areas. Moreover, it is difficult to identify P. knowlesi on the basis of morphology alone, and rapid diagnostic tests are still not available for this malaria species. Therefore, the development of diagnostic tests applicable to the field is urgently needed. 1-Cys peroxiredoxin (1-Cys-Prx) in P. falciparum is abundantly expressed in the mature asexual stages, making it a promising candidate as a diagnostic antigen. In this study, we produced five monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against P. falciparum 1-Cys-Prx (Pf1-Cys-Prx) by immunizing BALB/c mice with recombinant Pf1-Cys-Prx and subsequent hybridoma production. Cross reactivity of established mAbs with the orthologous molecule of Pf1-Cys-Prx in P. vivax (Pv1-Cys-Prx) and P. knowlesi (Pk1-Cys-Prx) was examined. Western blot analyses showed that three mAbs reacted with Pv1-Cys-Prx and Pk1-Cys-Prx but two mAbs did not. These results indicate that the two mAbs were effective in differentiating P. falciparum from P. vivax and P. knowlesi and could be used in differential diagnosis as well as comparative molecular studies of human Plasmodium species.
Project description:Pregnancy-associated malaria (PAM) is characterized by the placental sequestration of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes (IEs) with the ability to bind to chondroitin sulfate A (CSA). VAR2CSA is a leading candidate for a pregnancy malaria vaccine, but its large size ( approximately 350 kDa) and extensive polymorphism may pose a challenge to vaccine development. In this study, rabbits were immunized with individual VAR2CSA Duffy binding-like (DBL) domains expressed in Pichia pastoris or var2csa plasmid DNA and sera were screened on different CSA-binding parasite lines. Rabbit antibodies to three recombinant proteins (DBL1, DBL3, and DBL6) and four plasmid DNAs (DBL1, DBL3, DBL5, and DBL6) reacted with homologous FCR3-CSA IEs. By comparison, antibodies to the DBL4 domain were unable to react with native VAR2CSA protein unless it was first partially proteolyzed with trypsin or chymotrypsin. To investigate the antigenic relationship of geographically diverse CSA-binding isolates, rabbit immune sera were screened on four heterologous CSA-binding lines from different continental origins. Antibodies did not target conserved epitopes exposed in all VAR2CSA alleles; however, antisera to several DBL domains cross-reacted on parasite isolates that had polymorphic loops in common with the homologous immunogen. This study demonstrates that VAR2CSA contains common polymorphic epitopes that are shared between geographically diverse CSA-binding lines.
Project description:In hagfish and lampreys, two representative jawless vertebrates, the humoral immunity is directly mediated by variable lymphocyte receptors B (VLRBs). Both monomeric VLRBs are structurally and functionally similar, but their C-terminal tails differ: lamprey VLRB has a Cys-rich tail that forms disulfide-linked pentamers of dimers, contributing to its multivalency, whereas hagfish VLRB has a superhydrophobic tail of unknown structure. Here, we reveal that VLRBs obtained from hagfish plasma have a globular-shaped multimerized form (approximately 0.6 to 1.7 MDa) that is generated by hydrophobic clustering instead of covalent linkage. Electron microscopy (EM) and single-particle analysis showed that the multimerized VLRBs form globular-shaped clusters with an average diameter of 28.7?±?2.2?nm. The presence of VLRBs in the complex was confirmed by immune-EM analysis using an anti-VLRB antibody. Furthermore, the hydrophobic hagfish C-terminus (HC) was capable of triggering multimerization and directing the cellular surface localization via a glycophosphatidylinositol linkage. Our results strongly suggest that the hagfish VLRB forms a previously unknown globular-shaped antibody. This novel identification of a structurally unusual VLRB complex may suggest that the adaptive immune system of hagfish differs from that of lamprey.