Gut microbiota elicits a protective immune response against malaria transmission

Bahtiyar Yilmaz, Silvia Portugal, Tuan M. Tran, Raffaella Gozzelino, Susana Ramos, Joana Gomes, Ana Regalado, Peter J. Cowan, Anthony J F D'Apice, Anita S. Chong, Ogobara K. Doumbo, Boubacar Traore, Peter D. Crompton, Henrique Silveira, Miguel P. Soares

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

240 Citations (Scopus)


Glycosylation processes are under high natural selection pressure, presumably because these can modulate resistance to infection. Here, we asked whether inactivation of the UDP-galactose:β-galactoside-α1-3-galactosyltransferase (α1,3GT) gene, which ablated the expression of the Galα1-3Galβ1-4GlcNAc-R (α-gal) glycan and allowed for the production of anti-α-gal antibodies (Abs) in humans, confers protection against Plasmodium spp. infection, the causative agent of malaria and a major driving force in human evolution. We demonstrate that both Plasmodium spp. and the human gut pathobiont E. coli O86:B7 express α-gal and that anti-α-gal Abs are associated with protection against malaria transmission in humans as well as in α1,3GT-deficient mice, which produce protective anti-α-gal Abs when colonized by E. coli O86:B7. Anti-α-gal Abs target Plasmodium sporozoites for complement-mediated cytotoxicity in the skin, immediately after inoculation by Anopheles mosquitoes. Vaccination against α-gal confers sterile protection against malaria in mice, suggesting that a similar approach may reduce malaria transmission in humans. PaperFlick

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1277-1289
Number of pages13
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2014


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