Cryo-EM structure of P. falciparum VAR2CSA FCR3 core at 3.4 A

Experimental Data Snapshot

  • Resolution: 3.38 Å
  • Aggregation State: PARTICLE 
  • Reconstruction Method: SINGLE PARTICLE 

wwPDB Validation   3D Report Full Report

This is version 1.2 of the entry. See complete history


Structural basis for placental malaria mediated by Plasmodium falciparum VAR2CSA.

Ma, R.Lian, T.Huang, R.Renn, J.P.Petersen, J.D.Zimmerberg, J.Duffy, P.E.Tolia, N.H.

(2021) Nat Microbiol 6: 380-391

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41564-020-00858-9
  • Primary Citation of Related Structures:  
    7JGD, 7JGE, 7JGF, 7JGG, 7JGH

  • PubMed Abstract: 

    Plasmodium falciparum VAR2CSA binds to chondroitin sulfate A (CSA) on the surface of the syncytiotrophoblast during placental malaria. This interaction facilitates placental sequestration of malaria parasites resulting in severe health outcomes for both the mother and her offspring. Furthermore, CSA is presented by diverse cancer cells and specific targeting of cells by VAR2CSA may become a viable approach for cancer treatment. In the present study, we determined the cryo-electron microscopy structures of the full-length ectodomain of VAR2CSA from P. falciparum strain NF54 in complex with CSA, and VAR2CSA from a second P. falciparum strain FCR3. The architecture of VAR2CSA is composed of a stable core flanked by a flexible arm. CSA traverses the core domain by binding within two channels and CSA binding does not induce major conformational changes in VAR2CSA. The CSA-binding elements are conserved across VAR2CSA variants and are flanked by polymorphic segments, suggesting immune selection outside the CSA-binding sites. This work provides paths for developing interventions against placental malaria and cancer.

  • Organizational Affiliation

    Host-Pathogen Interactions and Structural Vaccinology Section, Laboratory of Malaria Immunology and Vaccinology, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.

Find similar proteins by:  (by identity cutoff)  |  3D Structure
Entity ID: 1
MoleculeChains Sequence LengthOrganismDetailsImage
Erythrocyte membrane protein 12,660Plasmodium falciparumMutation(s): 0 
Gene Names: var
Find proteins for Q6UDW7 (Plasmodium falciparum)
Explore Q6UDW7 
Go to UniProtKB:  Q6UDW7
Entity Groups  
Sequence Clusters30% Identity50% Identity70% Identity90% Identity95% Identity100% Identity
UniProt GroupQ6UDW7
Sequence Annotations
  • Reference Sequence
Experimental Data & Validation

Experimental Data

  • Resolution: 3.38 Å
  • Aggregation State: PARTICLE 
  • Reconstruction Method: SINGLE PARTICLE 

Structure Validation

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Entry History & Funding Information

Deposition Data

Funding OrganizationLocationGrant Number
National Institutes of Health/National Institute Of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH/NIAID)United States1 ZIA AI001237

Revision History  (Full details and data files)

  • Version 1.0: 2021-01-13
    Type: Initial release
  • Version 1.1: 2021-01-27
    Changes: Database references
  • Version 1.2: 2021-03-10
    Changes: Database references