Merozoite surface protein-1 (MSP-1) and MSP-2 of Plasmodium falciparum are potential vaccine candidate antigens for malaria vaccine development. However, extensive genetic polymorphism of the antigens in field isolates of P. falciparum represents a major obstacle for the development of an effective vaccine. In this study, genetic polymorphism of MSP-1 and MSP-2 among P. falciparum field isolates from Myanmar was analysed.
A total of 63 P. falciparum infected blood samples, which were collected from patients attending a regional hospital in Mandalay Division, Myanmar, were used in this study. The regions flanking the highly polymorphic characters, block 2 for MSP-1 and block 3 for MSP-2, were genotyped by allele-specific nested-PCR to analyse the population diversity of the parasite. Sequence analysis of the polymorphic regions of MSP-1 and MSP-2 was also conducted to identify allelic diversity in the parasite population.
Diverse allelic polymorphism of MSP-1 and MSP-2 was identified in P. falciparum isolates from Myanmar and most of the infections were determined to be mixed infections. Sequence analysis of MSP-1 block 2 revealed that 14 different alleles for MSP-1 (5 for K1 type and 9 for MAD20 type) were identified. For MSP-2 block 3, a total of 22 alleles (7 for FC27 type and 15 for 3D7 type) were identified.
Extensive genetic polymorphism with diverse allele types was identified in MSP-1 and MSP-2 in P. falciparum field isolates from Myanmar. A high level of mixed infections was also observed, as was a high degree of multiplicity of infection.