Sequence diversity in the amino-terminal region of the malaria-vaccine candidate serine repeat antigen in natural Plasmodium falciparum populations

Indri Safitri, Amadu Jalloh, Indah S. Tantular, Suhintam Pusarawati, Thin Thida Win, Qing Liu, Marcelo U. Ferreira, Yoes P. Dachlan, Toshihiro Horii, Fumihiko Kawamoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The amino-terminal region of the serine repeat antigen (SERA) of Plasmodium falciparum is a major malaria-vaccine candidate. Variation in this molecule is essentially dimorphic and alleles may be grouped into the types FCR3, K1 and Honduras1. The Honduras1-type is thought to be the product of homologous recombination between FCR3 and K1 alleles. Here we have examined patterns of sequence diversity in exon II of SERA gene, which encodes most of the amino-terminal region of the antigen, in wild P. falciparum isolates from Indonesia (n=60), Myanmar (n=10) and Thailand (n=14). Among the Indonesian isolates the FCR-3 type predominated (56/60), twenty of which we characterized as novel alleles. A new K1-type allele was also found. In Myanmar, however, all isolates displayed K1-type SERA sequences, which included one new allele. The Honduras1-type was not detected in both countries. In contrast, the 14 isolates from Thailand displayed all three allelic types, with one new Honduras1-type and three new K1-type alleles. On examining the global distribution of SERA alleles by combining previously published sequence data with our results, the FCR3-type alleles predominated in Indonesia, Brazil, and Solomon Islands, but were not found in wild isolates from Myanmar and Africa. Brazil was the only area where K1-type alleles were not found. The distribution of Honduras1-type alleles seems to be mostly restricted to parasite populations from Vietnam, Thailand and Africa. In the allelic families FCR3 and K1, most diversity resulted from variation in sequence and number of octamer repeat units and of allotypes encoding the stretch of serine residues. Sequence analysis indicated that both insertions and deletions of repetitive motifs (creating variation within dimorphic allelic families) and homologous recombination between alleles belonging to different allelic families (creating Honduras1-type alleles) play a role in generating new SERA alleles. Since repeat motifs in the amino-terminal region of SERA contain epitopes recognized by parasite-inhibitory antibodies, sequence variation in exon II may represent one of the parasite's immune-evasion strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-131
Number of pages15
JournalParasitology International
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2003


  • Genetic diversity
  • Plasmodium falciparum
  • Serine repeat antigen
  • Southeast Asia


Dive into the research topics of 'Sequence diversity in the amino-terminal region of the malaria-vaccine candidate serine repeat antigen in natural Plasmodium falciparum populations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this