The Plasmodium falciparum gene encoding erythrocyte binding antigen-175 (EBA-175), a putative receptor for red cell invasion (Camus, D., and T. J. Hadley. 1985. Science (Wash. DC). 230:553-556.), has been isolated and characterized. DNA sequencing demonstrated a single open reading frame encoding a translation product of 1,435 amino acid residues. Peptides corresponding to regions on the deduced amino acid sequence predicted to be B cell epitopes were assessed for immunogenicity. Immunization of mice and rabbits with EBA-peptide 4, a synthetic peptide encompassing amino acid residues 1,062-1,103, produced antibodies that recognized P. falciparum merozoites in an indirect fluorescent antibody assay. When compared to sera from rabbits immunized with the same adjuvant and carrier protein, sera from rabbits immunized with EBA-peptide 4 inhibited merozoite invasion of erythrocytes in vitro by 80% at a 1:5 dilution. Furthermore, these sera inhibited the binding of purified, authentic EBA-175 to erythrocytes, suggesting that their activity in inhibiting merozoite invasion of erythrocytes is mediated by blocking the binding of EBA-175 to erythrocytes. Since the nucleotide sequence of EBA-peptide 4 is conserved among seven strains of P. falciparum from throughout the world (Sim, B. K. L. 1990. Mol. Biochem. Parasitol. 41:293-296.), these data identify a region of the protein that should be a focus of vaccine development efforts.

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