Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research and Malaria Vaccine Development Branch, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-8132, USA.
Domain III of Plasmodium falciparum apical membrane antigen 1 binds to the erythrocyte membrane protein Kx.
Plasmodium falciparum apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1) is located in the merozoite micronemes, an organelle that contains receptors for invasion, suggesting that AMA1 may play a role in this process. However, direct evidence that P. falciparum AMA1 binds to human erythrocytes is lacking. In this study, we determined that domain III of AMA1 binds to the erythrocyte membrane protein, Kx, and that the rate of invasion of Kx(null) erythrocytes is reduced, indicating a significant but not unique role of AMA1 and Kx in parasite invasion of erythrocytes. Domains I/II/III, domains I/II and domain III of AMA1 were expressed on the surface of CHO-K1 cells, and their ability to bind erythrocytes was determined. We observed that each of these domains failed to bind untreated human erythrocytes. In contrast, domain III, but not the other domains of AMA1, bound to trypsin-treated human erythrocytes. We tested the binding of AMA1 to trypsin-treated genetically mutant human erythrocytes, missing various erythrocyte membrane proteins. AMA1 failed to bind trypsin-treated Kx(null) (McLeod) erythrocytes, which lack the Kx protein. Furthermore, treatment of human erythrocytes with trypsin, followed by alpha-chymotrypsin, cleaved Kx and destroyed the binding of AMA1 to human erythrocytes. Lastly, the rate of invasion of Kx null erythrocytes by P. falciparum was significantly lower than Kx-expressing erythrocytes. Taken together, our data suggest that AMA1 plays an important, but not exclusive, role in invasion of human erythrocytes through a process that involves exposure or modification of the erythrocyte surface protein, Kx, by a trypsin-like enzyme.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.. 102(15): 5552-7.
A version of synthetic AMA1 (codon optimized for expression in E. coli, Giersing et al. 2005) was expressed in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells to study the function of various AMA1 domains. The expression was successful in CHO cells.