Original article

Extensive polymorphism in the Plasmodium vivax merozoite surface coat protein MSP-3α is limited to specific domains

J. C.  RAYNER  a1, V.  CORREDOR  a2 a3, D.  FELDMAN  a4, P.  INGRAVALLO  a5, F.  IDERABDULLAH  a2, M. R.  GALINSKI  a2 and J. W.  BARNWELL  a1 c1
a1 Division of Parasitic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Chamblee, GA 30341
a2 Emory Vaccine Research Center at Yerkes National Primate Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30329
a3 Departmento de Ciencias Fisiologicas, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Nacional de Colombia
a4 Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10026
a5 Schering-Plough Research Institute, Kenilworth, NJ 07033

Article author query
rayner j   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
corredor v   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
feldman d   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
ingravallo p   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
iderabdullah f   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
galinski m   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
barnwell j   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Plasmodium merozoites are covered by a complex coat of surface proteins. Several of the Merozoite Surface Proteins (MSPs) that make up this coat have been proposed as vaccine candidates although some of the MSPs are known to be highly polymorphic. We present here the first survey and analysis of the polymorphism in the recently characterized P. vivax surface protein PvMSP-3α. Full length or partial sequences were obtained for the Pvmsp-3α gene from isolates originating in Central and South America, Asia and the Pacific. The Pvmsp-3α sequence is remarkably diverse, but this extensive diversity is largely restricted to certain domains of the encoded protein. An acidic C-terminal domain and a smaller hydrophilic N-terminus are relatively conserved, while a central domain containing coiled-coil heptad repeats is highly polymorphic and in some isolates of P. vivax is partially deleted. Unlike other MSPs, there is no evidence of allelic families of PvMSP-3α gene sequences, and no evidence that certain patterns of polymorphism group within isolates of similar geographical origin. The distribution and nature of polymorphism suggest that there are functional restrictions on mutations in this gene, and have implications for inclusion of PvMSP-3α as a candidate in a P. vivax vaccine.

(Received April 2 2002)
(Revised June 27 2002)
(Accepted June 27 2002)

Key Words: diversity; DNA slippage; malaria; merozoite; Plasmodium vivax; vaccine.

c1 Corresponding author: Division of Parasitic Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MS F-13, 4770 Buford Highway, Chamblee, GA 30341. Tel: 001 770 488 4528. Fax: 001 770 488 4253. E-mail: