Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes contain specific antigens, some of which (Mr 230,000, 48,000, 45,000) are expressed on the surface of the newly emerged macrogamete. A different antigen (Mr 25,000) surrounds the surface of the ookinete and, although present to some extent in the developing gametocyte, is synthesized in high quantities by the macrogamete/zygote and expressed progressively on the transforming zygote surface. These antigens are targets of transmission blocking antibodies that are effective at two distinct points after gametogenesis: fertilization of the macrogamete and ookinete to oocyst development. The antigens involved in the fertilization blockade are the Mr 48 and 45 proteins, which are expressed on the macrogamete surface. The Mr 230 K coprecipitating protein probably plays no part in transmission block. mAb directed against the Mr 25 K ookinete surface protein blocked transmission without inhibiting ookinete formation, indicating that this protein has an important role in the transformation of ookinete into oocyst. A combination of mAb recognizing different epitopes on the same protein molecule acted synergistically in inhibiting oocyst formation. Using a mixture of two blocking mAb reacting against the Mr 48/45 and 25 K proteins, respectively, an additive blocking effect could be demonstrated.

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