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DNA Cell Biol. 2009 Jun;28(6):277-84. doi: 10.1089/dna.2009.0853.

The ins and outs of nuclear trafficking: unusual aspects in apicomplexan parasites.

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


Apicomplexa is a phylum within the kingdom Protista that contains some of the most significant threats to public health. One of the members of this phylum, Toxoplasma gondii, is amenable to molecular genetic analyses allowing for the identification of factors critical for colonization and disease. A pathway found to be important for T. gondii pathogenesis is the Ran network of nuclear trafficking. Bioinformatics analysis of apicomplexan genomes shows that while Ran is well conserved, the key regulators of Ran--Regulator of Chromosome Condensation 1 and Ran GTPase activating protein--are either highly divergent or absent. Likewise, several import and export receptor molecules that are crucial for nuclear transport are either not present or have experienced genetic drift such that they are no longer recognizable by bioinformatics tools. In this minireview we describe the basics of nuclear trafficking and compare components within apicomplexans to defined systems in humans and yeast. A detailed analysis of the nuclear trafficking network in these eukaryotes is required to understand how this potentially unique cellular biological pathway contributes to host-parasite interactions.

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