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PLoS One. 2008;3(10):e3611. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003611. Epub 2008 Oct 31.

In silico identification of specialized secretory-organelle proteins in apicomplexan parasites and in vivo validation in Toxoplasma gondii.

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Department of Biology, Penn Genomic Frontiers Institute, and the Graduate Program in Genomics and Computational Biology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America.


Apicomplexan parasites, including the human pathogens Toxoplasma gondii and Plasmodium falciparum, employ specialized secretory organelles (micronemes, rhoptries, dense granules) to invade and survive within host cells. Because molecules secreted from these organelles function at the host/parasite interface, their identification is important for understanding invasion mechanisms, and central to the development of therapeutic strategies. Using a computational approach based on predicted functional domains, we have identified more than 600 candidate secretory organelle proteins in twelve apicomplexan parasites. Expression in transgenic T. gondii of eight proteins identified in silico confirms that all enter into the secretory pathway, and seven target to apical organelles associated with invasion. An in silico approach intended to identify possible host interacting proteins yields a dataset enriched in secretory/transmembrane proteins, including most of the antigens known to be engaged by apicomplexan parasites during infection. These domain pattern and projected interactome approaches significantly expand the repertoire of proteins that may be involved in host parasite interactions.

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