Despite significant progress in controlling malaria, the disease remains a global health burden. The intricate interactions the parasite Plasmodium falciparum has with its host allows it to grow and multiply in human erythrocytes. The mechanism by which P. falciparum merozoites invade human erythrocytes is complex, involving merozoite proteins as well as erythrocyte surface proteins. Members of the P. falciparum reticulocyte binding-like protein homolog (PfRh) family of proteins play a pivotal role in merozoite invasion and hence are important targets of immune responses.
MHC class II (MHCII) molecules are cell surface glycoproteins that play an important role to develop adaptive immune responses. MHCII-disease association is not restricted to structural variation alone but also may extend to genetic variations, which may modulate gene expression. The observed variations in class II gene expression make it possible that the association of MHCII polymorphism with diseases may relate to the level of gene expression in addition to the restriction of response to Ag.
Plasmodium vivax, the chronic relapsing human malaria parasite with the most widespread distribution, possesses proteins associated with the merozoite surface that could be targets for host immune responses and potential vaccine candidates. Of these, the merozoite surface protein 3 of P. vivax (PvMSP3) is an attractive vaccine target as well as a genetic marker for epidemiological surveillance.