Volume 61, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


Allelic diversity at the Plasmodium vivax merozoite surface protein-3alpha (PvMsp-3alpha) locus was investigated using a combined polymerase chain reaction/restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR/RFLP) protocol. Symptomatic patient isolates from global geographic origins showed a high level of polymorphism at the nucleotide level. These samples were used to validate the sensitivity, specificity, and reproducibility of the PCR/RFLP method. It was then used to investigate PvMsp3alpha diversity in field samples from children living in a single village in a malaria-endemic region of Papua New Guinea, with the aim of assessing the usefulness of this locus as an epidemiologic marker of P. vivax infections. Eleven PvMsp-3alpha alleles were distinguishable in 16 samples with single infections, revealing extensive parasite polymorphism within this restricted area. Multiple infections were easily detected and accounted for 5 (23%) of 22 positive samples. Pairs of samples from individual children provided preliminary evidence for high turnover of P. vivax populations.


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