Close linkage of three merozoite surface protein genes on chromosome 2 of Plasmodium falciparum

Mol Biochem Parasitol. 1998 Jul 1;94(1):13-25. doi: 10.1016/s0166-6851(98)00045-0.


We have analysed a 10.5 kb region of chromosome 2 in Plasmodium falciparum that encompasses the coding region of four genes. Three genes are arranged in a head-to-tail orientation and encode the merozoite surface proteins MSP2 and MSP4 as well as a previously unreported sequence that encodes a polypeptide with the characteristics of a merozoite surface protein, now designated MSP5. The fourth gene, asl, is arranged in a tail-to-tail orientation with msp2 and has homology with prokaryotic and eukaryotic genes encoding adenylosuccinate lyase (ASL), an enzyme involved in purine biosynthesis and salvage. The genes, arranged in the order msp4, msp5, msp2 and asl, are separated by intergenic distances of 1021, 1017 and 722 bp, respectively. msp4 and msp5 are clearly related genes, each being composed of 2 exons and encoding proteins of identical length. Both msp4 and msp5 encode proteins that contain hydrophobic signal sequences, apparent glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) attachment signals and a single epidermal growth factor-like (EGF-like) domain at their carboxyl termini. Nevertheless, the remainder of their protein coding regions are quite dissimilar. It appears that one of these genes arose as a result of a relatively ancient gene duplication event and both genes have subsequently diverged considerably. This study shows that msp5 is transcribed in asexual stages and its encoded product is a 40 kDa protein that appears to be located on the merozoite surface as determined by immunofluorescence assays.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Protozoan
  • Antigens, Protozoan*
  • Antimalarials
  • Base Sequence
  • Chromosomes / genetics*
  • DNA, Complementary
  • DNA, Protozoan
  • Drug Combinations
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Genes, Protozoan*
  • Immunoblotting
  • Mefloquine / analogs & derivatives
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Plasmodium falciparum / genetics*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / isolation & purification
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics*
  • Pyrimethamine
  • Rabbits
  • Sulfadoxine


  • Antibodies, Protozoan
  • Antigens, Protozoan
  • Antimalarials
  • DNA, Complementary
  • DNA, Protozoan
  • Drug Combinations
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • merozoite surface protein 2, Plasmodium
  • merozoite surface protein 5
  • mefloquine-sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine
  • Sulfadoxine
  • Mefloquine
  • Pyrimethamine

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF033037