The Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) adhesive proteins expressed on the surfaces of infected erythrocytes (IEs) are of key importance in the pathogenesis of P. falciparum malaria. Several structurally and functionally defined PfEMP1 types have been associated with severe clinical manifestations, such as cerebral malaria in children and placental malaria in pregnant women. PfEMP1 that can bind the Fc part of IgM (Fcμ) characterizes one such type, although the functional significance of this IgM binding to PfEMP1 remains unclear. In this study, we report the identification and functional analysis of five IgM-binding PfEMP1 proteins encoded by P. falciparum NF54. In addition to the VAR2CSA-type PFL0030c protein, already known to bind Fcμ and to mediate chondroitin sulfate A (CSA)-specific adhesion of IEs in the placenta, we found four PfEMP1 proteins not previously known to bind IgM this way. Although they all contained Duffy binding-likeε (DBLε) domains similar to those in VAR2CSA-type PfEMP1, they did not mediate IE adhesion to CSA, and IgM binding did not shield IEs from phagocytosis of IgG-opsonized IEs. In this way, these new IgM-binding PfEMP1 proteins resemble the rosette-mediating and IgM-binding PfEMP1 HB3VAR06, but none of them mediated formation of rosettes. We could map the capacity for Fc-specific IgM binding to DBLε domains near the C terminus for three of the four PfEMP1 proteins tested. Our study provides new evidence regarding Fc-dependent binding of IgM to PfEMP1, which appears to be a common and multifunctional phenotype.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Infectious Diseases