UMMS Affiliation

Department of Pathology

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Document Type



Amino Acids, Peptides, and Proteins | Immunity | Immunoprophylaxis and Therapy | Immunotherapy | Parasitic Diseases | Parasitology


Malaria remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide with 219 million infections and 435,000 deaths predominantly in Africa. The infective Plasmodium sporozoite is the target of a potent humoral immune response that can protect murine, simian and human hosts against challenge by malaria-infected mosquitoes. Early murine studies demonstrated that sporozoites or subunit vaccines based on the sporozoite major surface antigen, the circumsporozoite (CS) protein, elicit antibodies that primarily target the central repeat region of the CS protein. In the current murine studies, using monoclonal antibodies and polyclonal sera obtained following immunization with P. falciparum sporozoites or synthetic repeat peptides, we demonstrate differences in the ability of these antibodies to recognize the major and minor repeats contained in the central repeat region. The biological relevance of these differences in fine specificity was explored using a transgenic P. berghei rodent parasite expressing the P. falciparum CS repeat region. In these in vitro and in vivo studies, we demonstrate that the minor repeat region, comprised of three copies of alternating NANP and NVDP tetramer repeats, contains an epitope recognized by sporozoite-neutralizing antibodies. In contrast, murine monoclonal antibodies specific for the major CS repeats (NANP)n could be isolated from peptide-immunized mice that had limited or no sporozoite-neutralizing activity. These studies highlight the importance of assessing the fine specificity and functions of antirepeat antibodies elicited by P. falciparum CS-based vaccines and suggest that the design of immunogens to increase antibody responses to minor CS repeats may enhance vaccine efficacy.


Adaptive immunity, Malaria, Vaccines

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Copyright © The Author(s) 2021. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit

DOI of Published Version



Calvo-Calle JM, Mitchell R, Altszuler R, Othoro C, Nardin E. Identification of a neutralizing epitope within minor repeat region of Plasmodium falciparum CS protein. NPJ Vaccines. 2021 Jan 18;6(1):10. doi: 10.1038/s41541-020-00272-6. PMID: 33462218; PMCID: PMC7813878. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

NPJ vaccines

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.