Design of Alphavirus Virus-Like Particles Presenting Circumsporozoite Junctional Epitopes That Elicit Protection against Malaria.

The most advanced malaria vaccine, RTS,S, includes the central repeat and C-terminal domains of the Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite protein (PfCSP). We have recently isolated human antibodies that target the junctional region between the N-terminal and repeat domains that are not included in RTS,S. Due to the fact that these antibodies protect against malaria challenge in mice, their epitopes could be effective vaccine targets. Here, we developed immunogens displaying PfCSP junctional epitopes by genetic fusion to either the N-terminus or B domain loop of the E2 protein from chikungunya (CHIK) alphavirus and produced CHIK virus-like particles (CHIK-VLPs). The structural integrity of these junctional-epitope-CHIK-VLP immunogens was confirmed by negative-stain electron microscopy. Immunization of these CHIK-VLP immunogens reduced parasite liver load by up to 95% in a mouse model of malaria infection and elicited better protection than when displayed on keyhole limpet hemocyanin, a commonly used immunogenic carrier. Protection correlated with PfCSP serum titer. Of note, different junctional sequences elicited qualitatively different reactivities to overlapping PfCSP peptides. Overall, these results show that the junctional epitopes of PfCSP can induce protective responses when displayed on CHIK-VLP immunogens and provide a basis for the development of a next generation malaria vaccine to expand the breadth of anti-PfCSP immunity.
AuthorsJoseph R Francica, Wei Shi, Gwo-Yu Chuang, Steven J Chen, Lais Da Silva Pereira, S Katie Farney, Barbara J Flynn, Li Ou, Tyler Stephens, Yaroslav Tsybovsky, Lawrence T Wang, Alexander Anderson, Zoltan Beck, Marlon Dillon, Azza H Idris, Nicholas Hurlburt, Tracy Liu, Baoshan Zhang, Carl R Alving, Gary R Matyas, Marie Pancera, John R Mascola, Peter D Kwong, Robert A Seder
JournalVaccines (Vaccines (Basel)) Vol. 9 Issue 3 (Mar 18 2021) ISSN: 2076-393X [Print] Switzerland
PMID33803622 (Publication Type: Journal Article)

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