Plasmodium vivax vaccine candidate MSP1 displays conserved B-cell epitope despite high genetic diversity

Infect Genet Evol. 2021 May 20;93:104929. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2021.104929. Online ahead of print.


The polymorphic nature of merozoite surface protein 1(MSP1) raises doubts whether it may serve as a vaccine target against Plasmodium vivax malaria. This study analyses the impact of genetic variability on the epitope organization of different Pvmsp1 blocks. Ten blood samples collected from P. vivax infected malaria patients from West Bengal, India were used to analyze sequence and antigenic diversities of block 2 region of Pvmsp1. An additional 48 block 2 sequences from other countries were also analyzed. Global genetic framework of Pvmsp1 block 2 was represented by 12 indel clusters & 33 haplotypes (haplotype diversiy = 0.965 ± 0.024). Parasite sequences pertaining to other Pvmsp1 modules, namely block 6 and 10 displayed 14 & 29 (haplotype diversiy = 0.975 ± 0.003) and 22 & 30 indel clusters and haplotypes (haplotype diversiy = 0.947 ± 0.004), respectively. In spite of this remarkable genetic diversity, a small number of conserved epitopes were detected in all three PvMSP1 blocks. This novel finding substantiates that MSP1 could serve as a promising vaccine candidate against vivax malaria.

Keywords: Antigenic epitope; Genetic diversity; Merozoite surface protein 1; Plasmodium vivax.