, Volume 97, Issue 5, pp 1987-1995
Date: 18 May 2012

Heterologous expression of the C-terminal antigenic domain of the malaria vaccine candidate Pfs48/45 in the green algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

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Malaria is a widespread and infectious disease that is a leading cause of death in many parts of the world. Eradication of malaria has been a major world health goal for decades, but one that still remains elusive. Other diseases have been eradicated using vaccination, but traditional vaccination methods have thus far been unsuccessful for malaria. Infection by Plasmodium species, the causative agent of malaria, is currently treated with drug-based therapies, but an increase in drug resistance has led to the need for new methods of treatment. A promising strategy for malaria treatment is to combine transmission blocking vaccines (TBVs) that prevent spread of disease with drug-based therapies to treat infected individuals. TBVs can be developed against surface protein antigens that are expressed during parasite reproduction in the mosquito. When the mosquito ingests blood from a vaccinated individual harboring the Plasmodium parasite, the antibodies generated by vaccination prevent completion of the parasites life-cycle. Animal studies have shown that immunization with Pfs48/45 results in the production of malaria transmission blocking antibodies; however, the development of this vaccine candidate has been hindered by poor expression in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic hosts. Recently, the chloroplast of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii has been used to express complex recombinant proteins. In this study, we show that the C-terminal antigenic region of the Pfs48/45 antigen can be expressed in the chloroplast of the green algae C. reinhardtii and that this recombinant protein has a conformation recognized by known transmission blocking antibodies. Production of this protein in algae has the potential to scale to the very large volumes required to meet the needs of millions at risk for contracting malaria.