Plasmodium falciparum: Analysis of the antibody specificity to the surface of the trophozoite-infected erythrocyte

K. P. Piper*, D. J. Roberts, K. P. Day

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Current opinion supports the view that immunity to the surface of the trophozoite-infected erythrocyte (IE) is to Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP-1). Here we provide further evidence using the mutant cell line 1776/C10 which no longer expresses PfEMP-1 at the IE surface, due to a subtelomeric deletion in chromosome 9. We have measured antibody reactivity to this mutant in comparison to it's intact isogenic parent line 1776, which does express PfEMP-1, using the sensitive technique of flow cytometry, IgG-specific antibodies (subclass IgG1) in the plasma of hyperimmune adults, reacted to 1776 but never to the 1776/C10 mutant. Antibody subclasses were also measured in individual plasma samples to the surface of trophozoite-IE. Predominantly IgG1 antibodies were detected, with a few individual plasma having additional IgG3 antibodies. Previous studies have used the agglutination assay to measure sero-conversion to PfEMP-1. Here we show that both agglutination and flow cytometric methods are comparable, suggesting that agglutination of trophozoite-IE is mediated by IgG antibodies. Comparison of the isogenic cell lines 1776 and 1776/C10 differing in expression of PfEMP-1 provides further evidence that IgG antibodies, in particular of the cytophilic subclasses, mediate recognition of PfEMP-1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-169
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Parasitology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1999
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Diane Taylor for the generous gift of monoclonal antibodies to HRP-I and HRP-II. Dr K. P. Piper is supported by a Programme grant awarded to Dr. K. P. Day by the Wellcome Trust. Dr. K. P. Day is supported by a Research Leave Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust. Dr. D. J. Roberts is a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow.


  • FACS
  • Natural immunity
  • Plasmodium falciparum, IgG subclasses


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