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J Biol Chem. 2001 Feb 9;276(6):4119-27. Epub 2000 Oct 26.

The toxoplasma micronemal protein MIC4 is an adhesin composed of six conserved apple domains.

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Zentrum für Molekulare Biologie Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 282, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


The initial stage of invasion by apicomplexan parasites involves the exocytosis of the micronemes-containing molecules that contribute to host cell attachment and penetration. MIC4 was previously described as a protein secreted by Toxoplasma gondii tachyzoites upon stimulation of micronemes exocytosis. We have microsequenced the mature protein, purified after discharge from micronemes and cloned the corresponding gene. The deduced amino acid sequence of MIC4 predicts a 61-kDa protein that contains 6 conserved apple domains. Apple domains are composed of six spacely conserved cysteine residues which form disulfide bridges and are also present in micronemal proteins from two closely related apicomplexan parasites, Sarcocystis muris and Eimeria species, and several mammalian serum proteins, including kallikrein. Here we show that MIC4 localizes in the micronemes of all the invasive forms of T. gondii, tachyzoites, bradyzoites, sporozoites, and merozoites. The protein is proteolytically processed both at the N and the C terminus only upon release from the organelle. MIC4 binds efficiently to host cells, and the adhesive motif maps in the most C-terminal apple domain.

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