Structural diversity in the 45-kilodalton merozoite surface antigen of Plasmodium falciparum Academic Article uri icon


  • An integral membrane protein associated with the merozoite surface of Plasmodium falciparum termed merozoite surface antigen 2 (the 45-kDa merozoite surface antigen), occurs in antigenically diverse forms. Here we report the sequences of the MSA 2 gene from two other isolates of P. falciparum. The 43 N-terminal residues and the 74 C-terminal residues of all three MSA 2 sequences are highly conserved, but between these conserved regions there are dramatic differences among the alleles. Instead of the two copies of a 32-amino-acid repeat present in the MSA 2 of isolate FC27, MSA 2 from clone 3D7 and isolate Indochina 1 contain 5 and 12 copies respectively of the four amino acid sequence Gly Gly Ser Ala. The sequences flanking the repeats also differ among the three antigens. The repeats in MSA 2 appear to be immunodominant during natural infection, and antibodies to the repeat regions of different alleles react with a restricted number of parasite isolates.


  • Smythe, Jason A
  • Peterson, M Gregory
  • Coppel, Ross L
  • Saul, Alan J
  • Kemp, David J
  • Anders, Robin F

publication date

  • March 1990