Screening of viral-vectored P. falciparum pre-erythrocytic candidate vaccine antigens using chimeric rodent parasites

PLoS One. 2021 Jul 12;16(7):e0254498. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0254498. eCollection 2021.


To screen for additional vaccine candidate antigens of Plasmodium pre-erythrocytic stages, fourteen P. falciparum proteins were selected based on expression in sporozoites or their role in establishment of hepatocyte infection. For preclinical evaluation of immunogenicity of these proteins in mice, chimeric P. berghei sporozoites were created that express the P. falciparum proteins in sporozoites as an additional copy gene under control of the uis4 gene promoter. All fourteen chimeric parasites produced sporozoites but sporozoites of eight lines failed to establish a liver infection, indicating a negative impact of these P. falciparum proteins on sporozoite infectivity. Immunogenicity of the other six proteins (SPELD, ETRAMP10.3, SIAP2, SPATR, HT, RPL3) was analyzed by immunization of inbred BALB/c and outbred CD-1 mice with viral-vectored (ChAd63 or ChAdOx1, MVA) vaccines, followed by challenge with chimeric sporozoites. Protective immunogenicity was determined by analyzing parasite liver load and prepatent period of blood stage infection after challenge. Of the six proteins only SPELD immunized mice showed partial protection. We discuss both the low protective immunogenicity of these proteins in the chimeric rodent malaria challenge model and the negative effect on P. berghei sporozoite infectivity of several P. falciparum proteins expressed in the chimeric sporozoites.

Grant support

SK, AMS, SM and CM-M were supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 733273. CM-M was, in part, supported by Colciencias Ph.D. fellowship (Call 568 from 2012 Resolution 01218 Bogotá, Colombia). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.