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A high-affinity antibody against the CSP N-terminal domain lacks Plasmodium falciparum inhibitory activity

By Elaine Thai, Giulia Costa, Anna Weyrich, Rajagopal Murugan, David Oyen, Katherine Prieto, Alexandre Bosch, Angelo Valleriani, Nicholas C. Wu, Tossapol Pholcharee, Stephen W. Scally, Ian A. Wilson, Hedda Wardemann, Jean-Philippe Julien, Elena A. Levashina

Posted 14 Jan 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.01.13.904425 (published DOI: 10.1084/jem.20200061)

Malaria is a global health concern and research efforts are ongoing to develop a superior vaccine to RTS,S/AS01. To guide immunogen design, we seek a comprehensive understanding of the protective humoral response against Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite protein (PfCSP). In contrast to the well-studied responses to the repeat region and the C-terminus, the antibody response against the N-terminal domain of PfCSP (N-CSP) remains obscure. Here, we characterized the molecular recognition and functional efficacy of the N-CSP-specific monoclonal antibody 5D5. The crystal structure at 1.85 Å resolution revealed that α-helical epitope in N-CSP with high affinity through extensive shape and charge complementarity, and the unusual utilization of an N-linked glycan. Nevertheless, functional studies indicated low 5D5 binding to live Pf sporozoites, and lack of sporozoite inhibition in vitro and in mosquitoes. Overall, our data on low recognition and inhibition of sporozoites do not support the inclusion of the 5D5 epitope into the next generation of CSP-based vaccines.

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