Volume 67, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


Many of the asexual stage Plasmodium falciparum proteins that are the targets of host protective responses are markedly polymorphic. The full repertoire of diversity is not defined for any antigen. Most studies have focused on the genes encoding merozoite surface proteins 1 and 2 (MSP1, MSP2). We explored the extent of diversity of some of the less studied merozoite surface antigens and analyzed the degree of complexity of malaria field isolates by deriving nucleotide sequences of several antigens. We have determined the genotype of apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1) in a group of 30 field samples, collected over 29 months, from individuals living in an area of intense malaria transmission in Irian Jaya, identifying 14 different alleles. AMA1 genotyping was combined with previously determined MSP2 typing. AMA1 had the greatest power in distinguishing between isolates but methodological problems, especially when mixed infections are present, suggest it is not an ideal typing target. MSP1, MSP3, and glutamate-rich protein genotypes were also determined from a smaller group of samples, and all results were combined to derive an extended antigenic haplotype. Within this subset of 10 patients, nine different genotypes could be discerned; however, five patients were all infected with the same strain. This strain was present in individuals from two separate villages and was still present 12 months later. This strain was predominant at the first time point but had disappeared at the fourth time point. This significant change in malaria genotypes could be due to strain-specific immunity developing in this population.


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