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Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2004 Feb;16(1):32-40.

Toxoplasma as a novel system for motility.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Imperial College London, Sir Alexander Fleming Building, South Kensington Campus, London UK, SW7 2AZ.


Motility is a characteristic of most living organisms and often requires specialized structures like cilia or flagella. An alternative is amoeboid movement, where the polymerization/depolymerization of actin leads to the formation of pseudopodia, filopodia and/or lamellipodia that enable the cell to crawl along a surface. Despite their lack of locomotive organelles and in absence of cell deformation, members of the apicomplexan parasites employ a unique form of locomotion called gliding motility to promote their migration across biological barriers and to power host-cell invasion and egress. Detailed studies in Toxoplasma gondii and Plasmodium species have revealed that this unique mode of movement is dependent on a myosin of class XIV and necessitates actin dynamics and the concerted discharge and processing of adhesive proteins. Gliding is essential for the survival and infectivity of these obligate intracellular parasites, which cause severe disease in humans and animals.

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