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Int J Parasitol. 2001 Oct;31(12):1355-69.

Toxoplasma gondii and MHC-restricted antigen presentation: on degradation, transport and modulation.

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Department of Bacteriology, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Kreuzbergring 57, D-37075 Göttingen, Germany.


Resistance against Toxoplasma gondii, an obligate intracellular protozoan parasite surrounded by a parasitophorous vacuolar membrane, is mediated by the cellular arm of the immune system, namely CD8+ and CD4+ T cells. Thus, priming and activation of these cells by presentation of antigenic peptides in the context of major histocompatibility complex class I and class II molecules have to take place. This is despite the fact that the vacuolar membrane avoids fusion with the endocytic compartment and acts like a molecular sieve, restricting passive diffusion of larger molecules. This raises several cell biological and immunological questions which will be discussed in this review in the context of our current knowledge about major histocompatibility complex-restricted antigen presentation in other systems: (1) By which pathways are parasite-derived antigens presented to T cells? (2) Has the parasite evolved mechanisms to interfere with major histocompatibility complex-restricted antigen presentation in order to avoid immune recognition? (3) To what extent and by which mechanism is antigenic material, originating from the parasite, able to pass through the vacuolar membrane into the cytosol of the infected cell and is it then accessible to the antigen presentation machinery of the infected cell? (4) What are the actual antigen-presenting cells which prime specific T cells in lymphoid organs? An understanding of these mechanisms will not only provide new insights into the pathogenesis of Toxoplasma gondii and possibly other intravacuolar parasites, but will also improve vaccination strategies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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