Background: Plasmodium vivax synthesizes the largest number of 36 tryptophan-rich proteins belonging to the Pv-fam-a family. These parasite proteins need to be characterized for their biological function because tryptophan-rich proteins from other Plasmodium species have been proposed as vaccine candidates.
Methods: Recombinant P. vivax tryptophan-rich antigens (PvTRAgs) were used to determine their erythrocyte-binding activity by a cell-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, flow cytometry, and a rosetting assay.
Results: Only 4 (PvTRAg26.3, PvTRAg34, PvTRAg36, and PvTRAg36.6) of 21 PvTRAgs bind to host erythrocytes. The cross-competition data indicated that PvTRAg36 and PvTRAg34 share their erythrocyte receptors with previously described proteins PvTRAg38 and PvTRAg33.5, respectively. On the other hand, PvTRAg26.3 and PvTRAg36.6 cross-compete with each other and not with any other PvTRAg, indicating that these 2 proteins bind to the same but yet another set of erythrocyte receptor(s). Together, 10 of 36 PvTRAgs possess erythrocyte-binding activity in which each protein recognizes >1 erythrocyte receptor. Further, each erythrocyte receptor is shared by >1 PvTRAg.
Conclusions: This redundancy may be useful for the parasite to invade red blood cells and cause disease pathogenesis, and it can be exploited to develop therapeutics against P. vivax malaria.
Keywords: host cell invasion; malaria parasite; receptor-ligand interaction; tryptophan-rich proteins.
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