Seroprevalence and Specificity of Human Responses to the Plasmodium falciparum Rhoptry Protein Rhop-3 Determined by Using a C-Terminal Recombinant Protein

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Infection and Immunity


Rhoptry proteins participate in invasion of erythrocytes by malaria parasites. Antibodies to some of these proteins can inhibit invasion and partially protect monkeys from disease. To examine human serological responses to the 110-kDa component (Rhop-3) of the high-molecular-weight rhoptry protein complex, two eDNA clones corresponding to Rhop-3 were identified by immunologic screening. A recombinant protein representing the C-terminal one-third of the Rhop-3 was used to assess the seroprevalence to this protein in geographically isolated populations with different patterns of malaria transmission. The immunoglobulin G (IgG) positivity rate for the recombinant Rhop-3 in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was 30% in an area of Papua New Guinea where malaria is holoendemic. In Kenya, the prevalence rates were 43 and 36%, respectively, in an area of hyperendemicity and an area of seasonal transmission. By contrast, rates of IgG seroprevalence to an extract of Gambian strain of Plasmodium falciparum were 48, 90, and 97% respectively, in these populations. In these areas, the pattern of antibody recognition of Rhop-3 is more similar (1.7-fold maximum difference) than the parasite extract (5-fold difference). The difference in seroresponses may represent antigenic polymorphism in different parasite strains, while their similarity for the Rhop-3 fragment may represent conservation of this protein. Recombinant- and parasite extract-specific IgG was not found in individuals infected only with Plasmodium vivax. Cross-reactivity was seen in the IgM assay. In Mombasa (Kenya), maternal and cord Rhop-3-specific IgG activities were similar. Fetal antigen-specific IgM reactivity was generally undetectable for all antigens.