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Microbes Infect. 2002 Feb;4(2):119-32.

Cysteine and serine protease inhibitors block intracellular development and disrupt the secretory pathway of Toxoplasma gondii.

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Department of Biology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6018, USA.


A number of cysteine and serine protease inhibitors blocked the intracellular growth and replication of Toxoplasma gondii tachyzoites. Most of these inhibitors caused only minor alterations to parasite morphology irrespective of the effects on the host cells. However, three, cathepsin inhibitor III, TPCK and subtilisin inhibitor III, caused extensive swelling of the secretory pathway of the parasite (i.e. the ER, nuclear envelope, and Golgi complex), caused the breakdown of the parasite surface membrane, and disrupted rhoptry formation. The disruption of the secretory pathway is consistent with the post-translational processing of secretory proteins in Toxoplasma, and with the role of proteases in the maturation/activation of secreted proteins in general. Interestingly, while all parasites in an individual vacuole (the clonal progeny of a single invading parasite) were similarly affected, parasites in different vacuoles in the same host cell showed different responses to these inhibitors. Such observations imply that there are major differences in the biochemistry/physiology between tachyzoites within different vacuoles and argue that adverse effects on the host cell are not always responsible for changes in the parasite. Treatment of established parasites also leads to an accumulation of abnormal materials in the parasitophorous vacuole implying that materials deposited into the vacuole normally undergo proteolytic modification or degradation. Despite the often extensive morphological changes, nothing resembling lysosomal bodies was seen in any treated parasites, consistent with previous observations showing that mother cell organelles are not recycled by any form of autophagic-lysosomal degradation, although the question of how the parasite recycles these organelles remains unanswered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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