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Inter-allelic recombination in the Plasmodium vivax merozoite surface protein 1 gene among Indian and Colombian isolates

Amanda Maestre12, Sujatha Sunil14, Gul Ahmad1, Asif Mohmmed1, Marcela Echeverri2, Mauricio Corredor3, Silvia Blair2, Virander S Chauhan1 and Pawan Malhotra1*

Author Affiliations

1 International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, New Delhi. India

2 Grupo Malaria, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Antioquia. Medellin. Colombia

3 Universidad de Pamplona, Corporación para Investigaciones Biológicas, Medellín. Colombia

4 Malaria Research Centre, Delhi, India

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Malaria Journal 2004, 3:4  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-3-4

Published: 5 March 2004



A major concern in malaria vaccine development is the polymorphism observed among different Plasmodium isolates in different geographical areas across the globe. The merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP-1) is a leading vaccine candidate antigen against asexual blood stages of malaria parasite. To date, little is known about the extent of sequence variation in the Plasmodium vivax MSP-1 gene (Pvmsp-1) among Indian isolates. Since P. vivax accounts for >50% of malaria cases in India and in Colombia, it is essential to know the Pvmsp-1 gene variability in these two countries to sustain it as a vaccine candidate. The extent of polymorphism in Pvmsp-1 gene among Indian and Colombian isolates is described.


The sequence variation in the region encompassing the inter-species conserved blocks (ICBs) five and six of Pvmsp-1 gene was examined. PCR was carried out to amplify the polymorphic region of Pvmsp-1 and the PCR products from twenty (nine Indian and 11 Colombian) isolates were sequenced and aligned with Belem and Salvador-1 sequences.


Results revealed three distinct types of sequences among these isolates, namely, Salvador-like, Belem-like and a third type sequence which was generated due to interallelic recombination between Salvador-like sequences and Belem-like sequences. Existence of the third type in majority (44%) showed that allelic recombinations play an important role in PvMSP1 diversity in natural parasite population. Micro-heterogeneity was also seen in a few of these isolates due to nucleotide substitutions, insertions as well as deletions.


Intergenic recombination in the Pvmsp-1 gene was found and suggest that this is the main cause for genetic diversity of the Pvmsp-1 gene.