Merozoite surface protein 2 (MSP2) is a highly abundant, GPI-anchored surface antigen on merozoites of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. It consists of highly conserved N- and C-terminal domains, and a central polymorphic region that allows all MSP2 alleles to be categorized into the 3D7 or FC27 family. Previously it has been shown that epitope accessibility differs between lipid-bound and lipid-free MSP2, suggesting that lipid interactions modulate the conformation and antigenicity in a way that may better mimic native MSP2 on the merozoite surface.
The characterization of parasite populations circulating in malaria endemic areas is necessary to evaluate the success of ongoing interventions and malaria control strategies. This study was designed to investigate the genetic diversity of Plasmodium falciparum isolates from the semi-arid area in North East Ethiopia, using the highly polymorphic merozoite surface protein-2 (msp2) gene as a molecular marker.
Malaria remains a global health threat, with significant morbidity and mortality worldwide despite current interventions. The human disease is caused by five different parasitic species, with Plasmodium falciparum being the deadliest. As a result, vaccine research against P. falciparum is a global priority. Merozoite surface protein 2 (MSP2) is a promising vaccine antigen as MSP2-specific antibodies have been shown previously to be protective against malaria infection.