Expression of Plasmodium Berghei Circumsporozoite Antigen on the Surface of Exoerythrocytic Schizonts and Merozoites

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  • Institute of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University, Biomedical Research Institute, Cleveland, Ohio

The intracellular distribution of circumsporozoite (CS) antigen was traced by immunoelectron microscopy in cultures of Plasmodium berghei exoerythrocytic (EE) schizonts with monoclonal antibody (Mab) 3D11 to the immunodominant repeat region of the P. berghei CS protein. CS antigen was localized on the parasitophorous vacuole (PV) membrane and pellicular complex of recently invaded sporozoites and on electron-dense masses of sloughed CS antigen in the host cell cytoplasm. CS antigen persisted throughout the complete EE cycle of P. berghei on the surface of EE schizonts and was incorporated into the plasma membrane of budding EE merozoites. Erythrocytic merozoites were not labeled by Mab 3D11, indicating that these 2 populations of merozoites differ in antigenic composition. Significant internal labeling occurred in 50 hr EE schizonts in association with the limiting membranes of peripheral vesicles and short, tube-like structures attached to their outer surfaces. These vesicles contained an electron-dense flocculent material also present in the PV space. Association of CS antigen with the limiting membranes of these vesicles suggests that they either develop as endocytotic invaginations of the schizont plasma membrane or transport newly synthesized CS antigen from the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi of developing EE schizonts to the parasite surface.

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