DFG poject: Characterization of a novel multi-adhesion protein family expressed in the sexual stages of the human malaria pathogen Plasmodium falciparum


Project funded by the Emmy-Noether-Programme

Duration: 5 years

Application period: 2005-2011

Doctorates: Dr. Sabrina Scholz, Dr. Marie-Adrienne Dude, Dr. Andrea Kühn, Dr. Nina Simon


The aim of this research project is to characterize a new family of six multiadhesion proteins expressed in the sexual stages of the human pathogenic malaria pathogen Plasmodium falciparum, which are potential vaccine candidates for transmission-blocking vaccines. The six proteins, known as PfCCp proteins, are formed during gametocyte development and exposed during gametogenesis. The proteins are expressed co-dependently and form protein complexes that are partially released during gametogenesis. Knock-out studies have shown that PfCCp2 and PfCCp3, but not PfCCp4, are essential for the development of the parasite in mosquitoes. Antibodies directed against selected PfCCp domains inhibit gametogenesis with human complement involvement. The project focused among others on: 1. the expression pattern of the PfCCp proteins; 2. the protein interactions of the PfCCp proteins with other sexual-stage specific adhesion proteins; 3. the functional characterization of the PfCCp proteins via reverse genetics; and 4. the evaluation of the PfCCp proteins as vaccine candidates by means of transmission-blocking assays.