The malaria-induced surface antigens on Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes from West African patients were characterized by agglutination of infected cells by human sera, surface immunofluorescence of live infected cells, inhibition of cytoadherence to C32 melanoma cells by human sera, immunoelectron microscopy (immunoEM), and immunoprecipitation. In a nonimmune individual, serum antibody reactivity to surface antigens of infected cells was acquired during convalescence, as tested by all five methods, and was generally parasite isolate-specific. By contrast, adult hyperimmune West African sera reacted with many isolates, including isolates from geographically distinct regions. A quantitative correlation was established between agglutination and surface immunofluorescence assay titers, and between surface immunofluorescence assay and immunoEM reactivity, suggesting that a single antigen or a set of coexpressed antigens is being detected. Surface iodination of infected cells identified trypsin- sensitive high M, antigens in the sodium dodecyl sulfate extract. All sera tested that agglutinated infected cells also immunoprecipitated these antigens. The same surface antigens were immunoprecipitated by the homologous convalescent serum as by adult sera. By immunoEM these antigens were localized exclusively at the knob-like protrusions of infected cells, where they may participate in adherence to vascular endothelium.

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