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Role of Plasmodium vivax Duffy-binding protein 1 in invasion of Duffy-null Africans.

  • Author(s): Gunalan, K
  • Lo, E
  • Hostetler, JB
  • Yewhalaw, D
  • Mu, J
  • Neafsey, DE
  • Yan, G
  • Miller, LH
  • et al.
Abstract

The ability of the malaria parasite Plasmodium vivax to invade erythrocytes is dependent on the expression of the Duffy blood group antigen on erythrocytes. Consequently, Africans who are null for the Duffy antigen are not susceptible to P. vivax infections. Recently, P. vivax infections in Duffy-null Africans have been documented, raising the possibility that P. vivax, a virulent pathogen in other parts of the world, may expand malarial disease in Africa. P. vivax binds the Duffy blood group antigen through its Duffy-binding protein 1 (DBP1). To determine if mutations in DBP1 resulted in the ability of P. vivax to bind Duffy-null erythrocytes, we analyzed P. vivax parasites obtained from two Duffy-null individuals living in Ethiopia where Duffy-null and -positive Africans live side-by-side. We determined that, although the DBP1s from these parasites contained unique sequences, they failed to bind Duffy-null erythrocytes, indicating that mutations in DBP1 did not account for the ability of P. vivax to infect Duffy-null Africans. However, an unusual DNA expansion of DBP1 (three and eight copies) in the two Duffy-null P. vivax infections suggests that an expansion of DBP1 may have been selected to allow low-affinity binding to another receptor on Duffy-null erythrocytes. Indeed, we show that Salvador (Sal) I P. vivax infects Squirrel monkeys independently of DBP1 binding to Squirrel monkey erythrocytes. We conclude that P. vivax Sal I and perhaps P. vivax in Duffy-null patients may have adapted to use new ligand-receptor pairs for invasion.

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