Low level of sequence diversity at merozoite surface protein-1 locus of Plasmodium ovale curtisi and P. ovale wallikeri from Thai isolates.

PloS one

PubMedID: 23536840

Putaporntip C, Hughes AL, Jongwutiwes S. Low level of sequence diversity at merozoite surface protein-1 locus of Plasmodium ovale curtisi and P. ovale wallikeri from Thai isolates. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(3):e58962.
BACKGROUND
The merozoite surface protein-1 (MSP-1) is a candidate target for the development of blood stage vaccines against malaria. Polymorphism in MSP-1 can be useful as a genetic marker for strain differentiation in malarial parasites. Although sequence diversity in the MSP-1 locus has been extensively analyzed in field isolates of Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax, the extent of variation in its homologues in P. ovale curtisi and P. ovale wallikeri, remains unknown.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS
Analysis of the mitochondrial cytochrome b sequences of 10 P. ovale isolates from symptomatic malaria patients from diverse endemic areas of Thailand revealed co-existence of P. ovale curtisi (n?=?5) and P. ovale wallikeri (n?=?5). Direct sequencing of the PCR-amplified products encompassing the entire coding region of MSP-1 of P. ovale curtisi (PocMSP-1) and P. ovale wallikeri (PowMSP-1) has identified 3 imperfect repeated segments in the former and one in the latter. Most amino acid differences between these proteins were located in the interspecies variable domains of malarial MSP-1. Synonymous nucleotide diversity (pS) exceeded nonsynonymous nucleotide diversity (pN) for both PocMSP-1 and PowMSP-1, albeit at a non-significant level. However, when MSP-1 of both these species was considered together, pS was significantly greater than pN (p<0.0001), suggesting that purifying selection has shaped diversity at this locus prior to speciation. Phylogenetic analysis based on conserved domains has placed PocMSP-1 and PowMSP-1 in a distinct bifurcating branch that probably diverged from each other around 4.5 million years ago.

CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE
The MSP-1 sequences support that P. ovale curtisi and P. ovale wallikeri are distinct species. Both species are sympatric in Thailand. The low level of sequence diversity in PocMSP-1 and PowMSP-1 among Thai isolates could stem from persistent low prevalence of these species, limiting the chance of outcrossing at this locus.