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Long-lasting and transmission-blocking activity of antibodies to Plasmodium falciparum elicited in mice by protein conjugates of Pfs25

Kubler-Kielb, Joanna, Majadly, Fathy, Wu, Yimin, Narum, David L., Guo, Chunyan, Miller, Louis H., Shiloach, Joseph, Robbins, John B., Schneerson, Rachel
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2007 v.104 no.1 pp. 293-298
Culicidae, Plasmodium falciparum, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, adipic acid, adsorption, aluminum hydroxide, antibodies, antiserum, childhood, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, exotoxins, immune response, malaria, mice, midgut, morbidity, mortality, ookinetes, ovalbumin, parasites, surface proteins, vaccines
Malaria is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality, estimated to cause >1 million childhood deaths annually. Plasmodium falciparum causes the most severe form of the disease. There is as yet no licensed vaccine for this disease, despite over a half century of research. In this study, we investigated a transmission-blocking vaccine candidate, the ookinete surface protein Pfs25. Antibodies against Pfs25, drawn in during a bite, can block parasite development in the mosquito midgut, preventing transmission to other individuals. Pfs25 is a low-molecular-weight protein, by itself not immunogenic. To increase its immunogenicity, we investigated several methods of conjugating Pfs25 to itself and to other proteins: recombinant Pseudomonas aeruginosa exotoxin A, and ovalbumin, using amide, hydrazone, or thioether linkages. All conjugates were immunogenic and induced booster responses in mice. The scheme to form amide bonds between proteins by using adipic acid dihydrizide as a linker produced the most immunogenic conjugates. Adsorption of the conjugates onto aluminum hydroxide further increased the antibody response. Remarkably, the antibody levels 3 or 7 months after the last injection were significantly higher than those 1 wk after that injection. The observed transmission-blocking activity of immune sera correlated with antibody levels measured by ELISA.