High-Level Expression, Purification and Characterization of A Recombinant Plasmodium vivax Apical Membrane Antigen 1: Implication for vivax Malaria Vaccine Development

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Biology, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 Malaria and Vector Research Group (MVRG), Biotechnology Research Center (BCR), Pasteur Institute of Iran, Tehran, Iran


The apical membrane antigen-1 (AMA-1) is considered as a promising candidate for development of a malaria vaccine against Plasmodium parasites. The correct conformation of this protein appears to be necessary for the stimulation of parasite-inhibitory responses, and these responses, in turn, seem to be antibody-mediated. Therefore, in the present investigation, we expressed the Plasmodium vivax AMA-1 (PvAMA-1) ectodomain in Escherichia coli (E. coli), purified it using standard procedures and characterized it to determine its biological activities for it to be used as a potential target for developing a protective and safe vivax malaria vaccine.
Materials and Methods
In this experimental investigation, the ectodomain of PvAMA-1 antigen (GenBank accession no. JX624741) was expressed in the E. coli M15pQE30 expression system and purified with immobilized-metal affinity chromatography. The correct conformation of the recombinant protein was evaluated by Western blotting and indirect immunofluorescence antibody (IFA) test. In addition, the immunogenic properties of PvAMA-1 were evaluated in BALB/c mice with the purified protein emulsified in Freund’s adjuvant.
In the present study, the PvAMA-1 ectodomain was expressed at a high-level (65 mg/L) using a bacterial system. Reduced and non-reduced sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) as well as Western blot analysis confirmed the appropriate conformation and folding of PvAMA-1. The evaluation of immunogenic properties of PvAMA-1 showed that both T helper-1 and 2 cells (Th1 and Th2) responses were present in mice after three immunizations and persisted up to one year after the first immunization. Moreover, the antibodies raised against the recombinant PvAMA-1 in injected mice could recognize the native protein localized on P. vivax parasites.
We demonstrate that our recombinant protein had proper conformation and folding. Also, there were common epitopes in the recombinant forms corresponding to native proteins. These results; therefore, indicate that the expressed PvAMA-1 has the potential to be used as a vivax malaria vaccine.