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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2008 Jun;65(12):1900-15. doi: 10.1007/s00018-008-7556-x.

Host cell manipulation by the human pathogen Toxoplasma gondii.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Michigan Medical School, 1150 West Medical Center Drive, 5751 Medical Science Building II, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-0620, USA.


Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular parasite that can infect virtually any nucleated cell. During invasion Toxoplasma creates the parasitophorous vacuole, a subcellular compartment that acts as an interface between the parasite and host, and serves as a platform for modulation of host cell functions that support parasite replication and infection. Spatial reorganization of host organelles and cytoskeleton around the parasitophorous vacuole are observed following entry, and recent evidence suggests this interior redecorating promotes parasite nutrient acquisition. New findings also reveal that Toxoplasma manipulates host signaling pathways by deploying parasite kinases and a phosphatase, including at least two that infiltrate the host nucleus. Toxoplasma infection additionally controls several cellular pathways to establish an anti-apoptotic environment, and subverts immune cells as a conduit for dissemination. In this review we discuss these recent developments in understanding how Toxoplasma achieves widespread success as a human and animal parasite by manipulating its host.

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