Main content area

A Linear Peptide Containing Minimal T- and B-Cell Epitopes of Plasmodium falciparum Circumsporozoite Protein Elicits Protection against Transgenic Sporozoite Challenge

Calvo-Calle, J. Mauricio, Oliveira, Giane A., Watta, Carol Othoro, Soverow, Jonathan, Parra-Lopez, Carlos, Nardin, Elizabeth H.
Infection and immunity 2006 v.74 no.12 pp. 6929-6939
B-lymphocytes, Plasmodium falciparum, Primates, adjuvants, at-risk population, epitopes, humans, immune response, malaria, mice, morbidity, mortality, parasites, peptides, sporozoites, vaccines
An effective malaria vaccine is needed to address the public health tragedy resulting from the high levels of morbidity and mortality caused by Plasmodium parasites. The first protective immune mechanism identified in the irradiated sporozoite vaccine, the "gold standard" for malaria preerythrocytic vaccines, was sporozoite-neutralizing antibody specific for the repeat region of the surface circumsporozoite (CS) protein. Previous phase I studies demonstrated that a branched peptide containing minimal T- and B-cell epitopes of Plasmodium falciparum CS protein elicited antirepeat antibody and CD4⁺-T-cell responses comparable to those observed in volunteers immunized with irradiated P. falciparum sporozoites. The current study compares the immunogenicity of linear versus tetrabranched peptides containing the same minimal T- and B-cell epitopes, T1BT*, comprised of a CS-derived universal Th epitope (T*) synthesized in tandem with the T1 and B repeats of P. falciparum CS protein. A simple 48-mer linear synthetic peptide was found to elicit antisporozoite antibody and gamma interferon-secreting T-cell responses comparable to the more complex tetrabranched peptides in inbred strains of mice. The linear peptide was also immunogenic in outbred nonhuman primates (Aotus nancymaae), eliciting antibody titers equivalent to those induced by tetrabranched peptides. Importantly, the 48-mer linear peptide administered in adjuvants suitable for human use elicited antibody-mediated protection against challenge with rodent malaria transgenic sporozoites expressing P. falciparum CS repeats. These findings support further evaluation of linear peptides as economical, safe, and readily produced malaria vaccines for the one-third of the world's population at risk of malaria infection.