Antibodies to Peptides in Semiconserved Domains of RIFINs and STEVORs Correlate with Malaria Exposure.

20 Mar 2019
Zhou AE, Berry AA, Bailey JA, Pike A, Dara A, Agrawal S, Stucke EM, Ouattara A, Coulibaly D, Lyke KE, Laurens MB, Adams M, Takala-Harrison S, Pablo J, Jasinskas A, Nakajima R, Niangaly A, Kouriba B, Kone AK, Rowe JA, Doumbo OK, Thera MA, Patel JJ, Tan JC, Felgner PL, Plowe CV, Travassos MA

The repetitive interspersed family (RIFIN) and the subtelomeric variable open reading frame (STEVOR) family represent two of three major variant surface antigen families involved in malaria pathogenesis and immune evasion and are potential targets in the development of natural immunity. Protein and peptide microarrays populated with RIFINs and STEVORs associated with severe malaria vulnerability in Malian children were probed with adult and pediatric sera to identify epitopes that reflect malaria exposure. Adult sera recognized and reacted with greater intensity to all STEVOR proteins than pediatric sera did. Serorecognition of and seroreactivity to peptides within the semiconserved domain of STEVORs increased with age and seasonal malaria exposure, while serorecognition and seroreactivity increased for the semiconserved and second hypervariable domains of RIFINs only with age. Serologic responses to RIFIN and STEVOR peptides within the semiconserved domains may play a role in natural immunity to severe malaria. Malaria, an infectious disease caused by the parasite , causes nearly 435,000 deaths annually worldwide. RIFINs and STEVORs are two variant surface antigen families that are involved in malaria pathogenesis and immune evasion. Recent work has shown that a lack of humoral immunity to these proteins is associated with severe malaria vulnerability in Malian children. This is the first study to have compared serologic responses of children and adults to RIFINs and STEVORs in settings of malaria endemicity and to examine such serologic responses before and after a clinical malaria episode. Using microarrays, we determined that the semiconserved domains in these two parasite variant surface antigen families harbor peptides whose seroreactivity reflects malaria exposure. A similar approach has the potential to illuminate the role of variant surface antigens in the development of natural immunity to clinical malaria. Potential vaccines for severe malaria should include consideration of peptides within the semiconserved domains of RIFINs and STEVORs.