Identification of antigenically active tryptic fragments of apical membrane antigen-1 (AMA1) of Plasmodium chabaudi malaria: strategies for assembly of immunologically active peptides Academic Article uri icon


  • Apical membrane antigen-1 (AMA1) is a prime vaccine candidate for inclusion in a vaccine against malaria. It is known that the disulphide bond stabilised conformation of this antigen is important for eliciting a protective antibody response, however little is known about the epitopes within this molecule that are targeted by the immune response. We have used a peptide approach for the identification and characterisation of such regions. In this study, the in vitro refolded, recombinant ectodomain of AMA1 from the D strain of Plasmodium chabaudi adami, was digested with trypsin and individual peptide fragments examined for antigenic activity. We found that a tryptic fragment, which was derived from a loop-like structure within the putative domain I of the intact AMA1 molecule, was highly reactive with antibodies from the sera of hyperimmune mice. Two different synthetic peptide constructs incorporating this antigenically active fragment were assembled. The first consisted of two separate peptide chains which were linked through a disulphide bond formed using chemo-selective chemistry. A larger 45-mer loop peptide, generated by the oxidation of two cysteine residues close to the N- and C-termini of the 45-mer, represented the complete loop structure and incorporated the tryptic fragment. Each peptide construct was also able to elicit production of high titres of antibodies in mice and furthermore, the 45-residue loop peptide elicited antibodies capable of binding to AMA1 with titres comparable to those present in a mouse which had recovered from multiple exposures to P. chabaudi adami parasites. Passive immunisation with anti-loop antibodies did not suppress the development of parasitaemia in mice challenged with P. chabaudi adami suggesting that although highly immunogenic, the peptides represented inadequate or inappropriate epitopes for vaccination purposes.


  • Salvatore, Daniela
  • Hodder, Anthony N
  • Zeng, Weiguang
  • Brown, Lorena E
  • Anders, Robin F
  • Jackson, David C

publication date

  • October 2002