Kazutoyo Miura, Ashley J. Birkett, Ivana Vanjak, Aaron K. Sato, Carole A. Long, Thao P. Pham, Gang Yin, Neeraj Kapoor, Alexander R. Steiner, Cuong Tran, Aym Berges, Jeff Fairman, James Rozzelle, Wei Chan
Malaria, one of the most common vector borne human diseases, is a major world health issue. In 2015 alone, more than 200 million people were infected with malaria, out of which, 429 000 died. Even though artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACT) are highly effective at treating malaria infections, novel efforts toward development of vaccines to prevent transmission are still needed. Pfs25, a postfertilization stage parasite surface antigen, is a leading transmission-blocking vaccine (TBV) candidate. It is postulated that Pfs25 anchors to the cell membrane using a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) linker, which itself possesses pro-inflammatory properties. In this study, Escherichia coli derived extract (XtractCF+TM) was used in cell free protein synthesis [CFPS] to successfully express >200 mg/L of recombinant Pfs25 with a C-terminal non-natural amino acid (nnAA), namely, p-azidomethyl phenylalanine (pAMF), which possesses a reactive azide group. Thereafter, a unique conjugate vaccine (CV), namely, Pfs25-GPI was generated with dibenzocyclooctyne (DBCO) derivatized glycan core of malaria GPI using a simple but highly efficient copper free click chemistry reaction. In mice immunized with Pfs25 or Pfs25-GPI, the Pfs25-GPI group showed significantly higher titers compared to the Pfs25 group. Moreover, only purified IgGs from Pfs25-GPI group were able to significantly block transmission of parasites to mosquitoes, as judged by a standard membrane feeding assay [SMFA]. To our knowledge, this is the first report of the generation of a CV using Pfs25 and malaria specific GPI where the GPI is shown to enhance the ability of Pfs25 to elicit transmission blocking antibodies.