Inhibition of malaria parasite invasion of human erythrocytes by a lymphocyte membrane polypeptide

R. Benzaquen-Geffin, Y. Milner, H. Ginsburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Extraction by boiling of the buffy coat of human blood yields a protein solution which inhibits the propagation of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum in culture with a 50% inhibitory dose of 105 μg of protein per ml. The inhibitory activity is associated exclusively with the lymphocytes and affects solely the invasion of erythrocytes by free merozoites. Boiled extracts of isolated lymphocytes had a 50% inhibitory dose of 22 μg/ml. Fractionation of surface-labeled or pronase-treated lymphocytes revealed that the antimalarial lymphocyte factor is associated with the intracellular aspect of the membrane fraction and is probably not involved in the host defense system against malaria. Further purification by salt extraction, ion-exchange chromatography, molecular gel filtration, and electroelution from lithium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gels resulted in 300- to 550-fold purification, i.e., a 50% inhibitory dose of 40 to 70 ng/ml. All inhibitory fractions contained a 48-kilodalton polypeptide which eluted from a gel filtration column as a 400-kilodalton species, implying multimeric association. Some 6,000 molecules of the 48-kilodalton polypeptide bind with high affinity to one merozoite, the free form of the parasite. The K(d) of 0.1 to 0.5 nM for the binding of the 48-kilodalton polypeptide correlated well with the 50% inhibitory dose of 0.3 to 0.4 nM obtained with purified active antimalarial lymphocyte factor. We therefore suggest that the 48-kilodalton polypeptide partially purified from lymphocyte membranes is the antimalarial lymphocyte factor and that it exerts its inhibitory activity by binding to merozoites, thereby preventing their invasion into erythrocytes. The antimalarial lymphocyte factor or a polypeptide sequence thereof could serve for further probing of invasion at the molecular level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-351
Number of pages10
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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