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Parasitol Int. 1999 Mar;48(1):1-10.

Armed and dangerous: Toxoplasma gondii uses an arsenal of secretory proteins to infect host cells.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite that infects a wide variety of warm-blooded animals and humans, in which it causes opportunistic disease. As an obligate intracellular parasite, T. gondii must invade a host cell to survive and replicate during infection. Recent studies suggest that T. gondii secretes a variety of proteins that appear to function during invasion or intracellular replication. These proteins originate from three distinct regulated secretory organelles called micronemes, rhoptries and dense granules. By discharging the contents of its secretory organelles at precise steps in invasion, T. gondii appears to timely deploy secretory proteins to their correct target destinations. Based on the timing of secretion and the characteristics of secretory proteins, an emerging theme is that T. gondii compartmentalizes its secretory proteins according to general function. Thus, it appears that micronemal proteins may function during parasite attachment to host cells, rhoptry proteins may facilitate parasite vacuole formation and host organellar association, and dense granule proteins likely promote intracellular replication, possibly by transporting and processing nutrients from the host cell. However, as more T. gondii secretory proteins are identified and characterized, it is likely that additional functions will be ascribed to each class of proteins secreted- by this fascinating invasive parasite.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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