Transfected HEK293 cells expressing functional recombinant intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1)--a receptor associated with severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria

PLoS One. 2013 Jul 25;8(7):e69999. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069999. Print 2013.


Intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) is a membrane-bound glycoprotein expressed on endothelial cells and cells of the immune system. Human ICAM-1 mediates adhesion and migration of leucocytes, and is implicated in inflammatory pathologies, autoimmune diseases and in many cancer processes. Additionally, ICAM-1 acts as receptor for pathogens like human rhinovirus and Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasites. A group of related P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) domains, the DBLβ, mediates ICAM-1 binding of P. falciparum-infected erythrocytes. This ICAM‑1-binding phenotype has been suggested to be involved in the development of cerebral malaria. However, more studies identifying cross-reactive antibody and ICAM-1-binding epitopes and the establishment of a clinical link between DBLβ expression and e.g. cerebral malaria are needed before the DBLβ domains can be put forward as vaccine candidates and go into clinical trials. Such studies require availability of functional recombinant ICAM-1 in large quantities. In this study, we compared recombinant ICAM-1 expressed in HEK293 and COS-7 cells with mouse myeloma NS0 ICAM-1 purchased from a commercial vendor in terms of protein purity, yield, fold, ability to bind DBLβ, and relative cost. We present a HEK293 cell-based, high-yield expression and purification scheme for producing inexpensive, functional ICAM‑1. ICAM-1 expressed in HEK293 is applicable to malaria research and can also be useful in other research fields.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COS Cells
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / genetics
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / isolation & purification*
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Plasmodium falciparum / chemistry*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / isolation & purification*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Transfection


  • ICAM1 protein, human
  • Icam1 protein, mouse
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • erythrocyte membrane protein 1, Plasmodium falciparum
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1