Immune selection and within-host competition can structure the repertoire of variant surface antigens in Plasmodium falciparum--a mathematical model

Sander P van Noort, Marta C Nunes, Gareth D Weedall, Lars Hviid, M Gabriela M Gomes

    11 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The evolutionary mechanisms structuring the expression pattern of variant surface antigen (VSA) families that allow pathogens to evade immune responses and establish chronic and repeated infections pose major challenges to theoretical research. In Plasmodium falciparum, the best-studied VSA family is erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1). Each parasite genome encodes about 60 PfEMP1 variants, which are important virulence factors and major targets of host antibody responses. Transcriptional switching is the basis of clonal PfEMP1 variation and immune evasion. A relatively conserved subset of PfEMP1 variants tends to dominate in non-immune patients and in patients with severe malaria, while more diverse subsets relate to uncomplicated infection and higher levels of pre-existing protective immunity.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalP L o S One
    Volume5
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)e9778
    ISSN1932-6203
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010

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