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Cell Microbiol. 2005 Mar;7(3):351-62.

Detection of a novel parasite kinase activity at the Toxoplasma gondii parasitophorous vacuole membrane capable of phosphorylating host IkappaBalpha.

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Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, KY 40536, USA.


Toxoplasma gondii activates the NF-kappaB pathway in the infected host cell resulting in upregulation of pro-survival genes and prevention of apoptosis. Manipulation of the NF-kappaB cascade by T. gondii correlates with the localization of phosphorylated IkappaB at the parasitophorous vacuole membrane (PVM). This suggests a parasite-mediated event, involving the recruitment and activation of the host IkappaB kinase (IKK) complex, as has been observed with the related protozoan Theileria parva. In contrast to Theileria, confocal microscopy studies showed no apparent hijacking of IKKalpha, IKKbeta, or their activated phosphorylated forms at the T. gondii PVM. Remarkably, phosphorylation of IkappaBalpha at Ser 32/36 was observed at the PVM of T. gondii-infected IKKalpha-/-, IKKbeta-/- and IKKalpha/beta double-knockout (IKKalpha/beta-/-) fibroblasts, suggesting the involvement of a parasite kinase activity independent of host IKK. The presence of a putative T. gondii IkappaB kinase was examined by in vitro kinase assays using GST-IkappaBalpha constructs and protein extracts from both extracellular parasites and PVM fractions. Interestingly, an activity capable of phosphorylating IkappaBalpha at the critical Ser 32/36 sites was identified in parasite extracts, a property restricted to the IKK signalosome. Taken together, our data support the role for a T. gondii kinase involved in phosphorylation of host cell IkappaBalpha and suggest an unusual mechanism utilized by an intracellular pathogen capable of manipulating the NF-kappaB pathway.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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