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Cryo-EM structure of the circumsporozoite protein of Plasmodium falciparum with a vaccine-elicited antibody reveals maturation of inter-antibody contacts

By David Oyen, Jonathan L. Torres, Christopher A Cottrell, C. Richter King, Ian A. Wilson, Andrew B. Ward

Posted 27 May 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/332304 (published DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau8529)

The circumsporozoite protein (CSP) on the surface of Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites is important for parasite development, motility, and host hepatocyte invasion. However, intrinsic disorder of the NANP repeat sequence in the central region of CSP has hindered its structural and functional characterization. Here, the cryo-EM structure at ~3.4 Angstrom resolution of a recombinant shortened CSP construct (rsCSP) with the variable domains (Fabs) of a highly protective monoclonal antibody reveals an extended spiral conformation of the central NANP repeat region surrounded by antibodies. This unusual structure appears to be stabilized and/or induced by interaction with an antibody where contacts between adjacent Fabs are somatically mutated and enhance the interaction. Such maturation in non-antigen contact residues may be an effective mechanism for antibodies to target tandem repeat sequences and provide novel insights into malaria vaccine design.

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