Association of malaria parasite population structure, HLA, and immunological antagonism
Gilbert SC., Plebanski M., Gupta S., Morris J., Cox M., Aidoo M., Kwiatkowski D., Greenwood BM., Whittle HC., Hill AV.
Host-parasite coevolution has been likened to a molecular arms race, with particular parasite genes evolving to evade specific host defenses. Study of the variants of an antigenic epitope of Plasmodium falciparum that induces a cytotoxic T cell response supports this view. In African children with malaria, the variants present are influenced by the presence of a human leukocyte antigen (HLA) type that restricts the immune response to this epitope. The distribution of parasite variants may be further influenced by the ability of cohabiting parasite strains to facilitate each other’s survival by down-regulating cellular immune responses, using altered peptide ligand antagonism.