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J Exp Med. 2006 Sep 4;203(9):2063-71. Epub 2006 Aug 28.

Vacuolar and plasma membrane stripping and autophagic elimination of Toxoplasma gondii in primed effector macrophages.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Division of Biology and Medicine, Brown University, and Core Research Laboratories, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI 02912, USA.


Apicomplexan protozoan pathogens avoid destruction and establish a replicative niche within host cells by forming a nonfusogenic parasitophorous vacuole (PV). Here we present evidence for lysosome-mediated degradation of Toxoplasma gondii after invasion of macrophages activated in vivo. Pathogen elimination was dependent on the interferon gamma inducible-p47 GTPase, IGTP, required PI3K activity, and was preceded by PV membrane indentation, vesiculation, disruption, and, surprisingly, stripping of the parasite plasma membrane. Denuded parasites were enveloped in autophagosome-like vacuoles, which ultimately fused with lysosomes. These observations outline a series of mechanisms used by effector cells to redirect the fate of a classically nonfusogenic intracellular pathogen toward a path of immune elimination.

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