Several lines of evidence have emphasized the importance of the malaria circumsporozoite (CS) protein as a factor in sporozoite invasion of the hepatocyte; however, the specific mechanism of cell recognition and invasion has not been explained. In this study we present evidence that a highly conserved region of the CS protein immediately adjacent to the repeat region, the N1 region, specifically recognizes receptors on the human hepatoma cell line HepG2-A16 under conditions where invasion by sporozoites can occur. Peptides consisting of sequences from the repeat region or of the more extensive N2 region showed no such specific association. Antibody against the N1 peptide could inhibit sporozoite invasion in vitro. Covalent coupling of radiolabeled N1 peptide to HepG2-A16 cells identified two hepatic cell proteins to be closely associated with the peptide. We suggest that these proteins could act as receptors or mediators, via the N1 region of the CS protein, for the P. falciparum sporozoite in the process of invasion of the hepatocyte.

This content is only available as a PDF.