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Cloning and expression in E. coli of the malarial sporozoite surface antigen gene from Plasmodium knowlesi


The malarial sporozoite, the infective stage found in the salivary gland of the insect vector, bears highly immunogenic surface antigen(s). Repeated exposure to irradiated sporozoites induces protection against malaria in several host species, including man1. Further, monoclonal antibodies that confer passive immunity react with the immunogenic surface determinants of different sporozoite species2–4. One approach to prevent malaria, therefore, would be to produce a vaccine that induces high titres of circulating antibodies against the sporozoite surface determinant(s). However, production of such a vaccine has not been possible since sporozoites cannot be cultivated in vitro and, therefore, only limited amounts of surface antigen may be obtained. To overcome this problem, we have prepared mRNA from Plasmodium knowlesi-infected mosquitoes to construct a cDNA library. From this library we have isolated a clone that expresses the sporozoite surface antigen as a β-lactamase fusion protein in the plasmid pBR322. This is the first potentially protective malarial antigen to be cloned by recombinant DNA technology.

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Ellis, J., Ozaki, L., Gwadz, R. et al. Cloning and expression in E. coli of the malarial sporozoite surface antigen gene from Plasmodium knowlesi. Nature 302, 536–538 (1983).

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