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Understanding mechanisms of antibody synergy is important for vaccine design and antibody cocktail development. Examples of synergy between antibodies are well-documented, but the mechanisms underlying these relationships often remain poorly understood. The leading blood-stage malaria vaccine candidate, CyRPA, is essential for invasion of Plasmodium falciparum into human erythrocytes. Here we present a panel of anti-CyRPA monoclonal antibodies that strongly inhibit parasite growth in in vitro assays. Structural studies show that growth-inhibitory antibodies bind epitopes on a single face of CyRPA. We also show that pairs of non-competing inhibitory antibodies have strongly synergistic growth-inhibitory activity. These antibodies bind to neighbouring epitopes on CyRPA and form lateral, heterotypic interactions which slow antibody dissociation. We predict that such heterotypic interactions will be a feature of many immune responses. Immunogens which elicit such synergistic antibody mixtures could increase the potency of vaccine-elicited responses to provide robust and long-lived immunity against challenging disease targets.

Original publication




Journal article


Nature communications

Publication Date





Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.