Malaria parasite proteins involved in erythrocyte invasion are considered important vaccine targets. Members of the reticulocyte binding-like (RBL) family of Plasmodium merozoite proteins are found in human, simian, and rodent malaria parasites and function in the initial steps of erythrocyte selection and invasion. The RBL genes are large, ranging in size from 7.7 to 10 kb, and the extent of any sequence diversity in parasite populations is unknown. We present the first assessment of sequence diversity within RBL genes from the two major human malaria parasites: Plasmodium falciparum and P, vivax. Polymorphism within the RBL genes is generally limited, except for P. vivax reticulocyte binding protein 2 (PvRBP2), which has nucleotide diversity levels 25-fold higher than the other RBL genes. The PvRBP2 haplotypes appear to fall into two distinct classes of alleles, suggesting large-scale dimorphism in this gene. Polymorphisms were frequently clustered, suggesting that different RBL domains may be evolving under different selection and functional pressures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases