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The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum induces a number of novel adhesion properties in the erythrocytes that it infects. One of these properties, the ability of infected erythrocytes to bind uninfected erythrocytes to form rosettes, is associated with severe malaria and may play a direct role in the pathogenesis of disease. Previous work has shown that erythrocytes deficient in complement receptor (CR) 1 (CR1, CD35; C3b/C4b receptor) have greatly reduced rosetting capacity, indicating an essential role for CR1 in rosette formation. Using deletion mutants and mAbs, we have localized the region of CR1 required for the formation of P. falciparum rosettes to the area of long homologous repeat regions B and C that also acts as the binding site for the activated complement component C3b. This result raises the possibility that C3b could be an intermediary in rosetting, bridging between the infected erythrocyte and CR1. We were able to exclude this hypothesis, however, as parasites grown in C3-deficient human serum formed rosettes normally. We have also shown in this report that rosettes can be reversed by mAb J3B11 that recognizes the C3b binding site of CR1. This rosette-reversing activity was demonstrated in a range of laboratory-adapted parasite strains and field isolates from Kenya and Malawi. Thus, we have mapped the region of CR1 required for rosetting and demonstrated that the CR1-dependent rosetting mechanism occurs commonly in P. falciparum isolates, and could therefore be a potential target for future therapeutic interventions to treat severe malaria.

Original publication




Journal article


J Immunol

Publication Date





6341 - 6346


Animals, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Binding Sites, Consensus Sequence, Dimerization, Epitope Mapping, Erythrocytes, Humans, Plasmodium falciparum, Receptors, Complement 3b, Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid, Rosette Formation, Sequence Deletion, Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid