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Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 2009 Mar;104(2):234-40.

Toxoplasma gondii and the Immunity-Related GTPase (IRG) resistance system in mice: a review.

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Institute for Genetics, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.


The Immunity Related GTPases (IRG proteins) constitute a large family of interferon-inducible proteins that mediate early resistance to Toxoplasma gondii infection in mice. At least six members of this family are required for resistance of mice to virulent T. gondii strains. Recent results have shown that the complexity of the resistance arises from complex regulatory interactions between different family members. The mode of action against T. gondii depends on the ability of IRG proteins to accumulate on the parasitophorous vacuole of invading tachyzoites and to induce local damage to the vacuole resulting in disruption of the vacuolar membrane. Virulent strains of T. gondii overcome the IRG resistance system, probably by interfering with the loading of IRG proteins onto the parasitophorous vacuole membrane. It may be assumed that T. gondii strains highly virulent for mice will be disadvantaged in the wild due to the rapid extinction of the infected host, while it is self-evident that susceptibility to virulent strains is disadvantageous to the mouse host. We consider the possibility that this double disadvantage is compensated in wild populations by segregating alleles with different resistance and susceptibility properties in the IRG system.

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