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Open Access Research

T1BT* structural study of an anti-plasmodial peptide through NMR and molecular dynamics

Elena Topchiy1, Geoffrey S Armstrong2, Katherine I Boswell1, Ginka S Buchner1, Jan Kubelka1 and Teresa E Lehmann1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Chemistry, University of Wyoming Laramie, Laramie, WY 82071, USA

2 Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado at Boulder, Aurora, CO, 80045, USA

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Malaria Journal 2013, 12:104  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-12-104

Published: 18 March 2013

Abstract

Background

T1BT* is a peptide construct containing the T1 and B epitopes located in the 5’ minor repeat and the 3’ major repeat of the central repeat region of the Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite protein (CSP), respectively, and the universal T* epitope located in the C-terminus of the same protein. This peptide construct, with B = (NANP)3, has been found to elicit antisporozoite antibodies and gamma-interferon-screening T-cell responses in inbred strains of mice and in outbred nonhuman primates. On the other hand, NMR and CD spectroscopies have identified the peptide B’ = (NPNA)3 as the structural unit of the major repeat in the CSP, rather than the more commonly quoted NANP. With the goal of assessing the structural impact of the NPNA cadence on a proven anti-plasmodial peptide, the solution structures of T1BT* and T1B’T* were determined in this work.

Methods

NMR spectroscopy and molecular dynamics calculations were used to determine the solution structures of T1BT* and T1B’T*. These structures were compared to determine the main differences and similarities between them.

Results

Both peptides exhibit radically different structures, with the T1B’T* showing strong helical tendencies. NMR and CD data, in conjunction with molecular modelling, provide additional information about the topologies of T1BT* and T1B’T*. Knowing the peptide structures required to elicit the proper immunogenic response can help in the design of more effective, conformationally defined malaria vaccine candidates. If peptides derived from the CSP are required to have helical structures to interact efficiently with their corresponding antibodies, a vaccine based on the T1B’T* construct should show higher efficiency as a pre-erythrocyte vaccine that would prevent infection of hepatocytes by sporozoites.

Keywords:
Medicinal chemistry; NMR; Circular dichroism; Malaria