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Mol Microbiol. 2008 Oct;70(2):410-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2008.06419.x. Epub 2008 Aug 27.

Functional analysis of key nuclear trafficking components reveals an atypical Ran network required for parasite pathogenesis.

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Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1300 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Protozoan parasites represent major public health challenges. Many aspects of their cell biology are distinct from their animal hosts, providing potential therapeutic targets. Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite that contains a divergent regulator of chromosome condensation 1 (TgRCC1) that is required for virulence and efficient nuclear trafficking. RCC1 proteins function as a guanine exchange factor for Ras-related nuclear protein (Ran), an abundant GTPase responsible for the majority of nucleocytoplasmic transport. Here we show that while there are dramatic differences from well-conserved RCC1 proteins, TgRCC1 associates with chromatin, interacts with Ran and complements a mammalian temperature-sensitive RCC1 mutant cell line. During the investigation of TgRCC1, we observed several unprecedented phenotypes for TgRan, despite a high level of sequence conservation. The cellular distribution of TgRan is found throughout the parasite cell, whereas Ran in late branching eukaryotes is predominantly nuclear. Additionally, T. gondii tolerates at least low-level expression of dominant lethal Ran mutants. Wild type parasites expressing dominant negative TgRan grew similarly to wild type in standard tissue culture conditions, but were attenuated in serum-starved host cells and mice. These growth characteristics paralleled the TgRCC1 mutant and highlight the importance of the nuclear transport pathway for virulence of eukaryotic pathogens.

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