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PLoS Biol. 2010 Sep 28;8(9). pii: e1000499. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000499.

The transforming parasite Theileria co-opts host cell mitotic and central spindles to persist in continuously dividing cells.

Author information

1
Molecular Pathobiology, DCR-VPH, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.

Abstract

The protozoan parasite Theileria inhabits the host cell cytoplasm and possesses the unique capacity to transform the cells it infects, inducing continuous proliferation and protection against apoptosis. The transforming schizont is a multinucleated syncytium that resides free in the host cell cytoplasm and is strictly intracellular. To maintain transformation, it is crucial that this syncytium is divided over the two daughter cells at each host cell cytokinesis. This process was dissected using different cell cycle synchronization methods in combination with the targeted application of specific inhibitors. We found that Theileria schizonts associate with newly formed host cell microtubules that emanate from the spindle poles, positioning the parasite at the equatorial region of the mitotic cell where host cell chromosomes assemble during metaphase. During anaphase, the schizont interacts closely with host cell central spindle. As part of this process, the schizont recruits a host cell mitotic kinase, Polo-like kinase 1, and we established that parasite association with host cell central spindles requires Polo-like kinase 1 catalytic activity. Blocking the interaction between the schizont and astral as well as central spindle microtubules prevented parasite segregation between the daughter cells during cytokinesis. Our findings provide a striking example of how an intracellular eukaryotic pathogen that evolved ways to induce the uncontrolled proliferation of the cells it infects usurps the host cell mitotic machinery, including Polo-like kinase 1, one of the pivotal mitotic kinases, to ensure its own persistence and survival.

PMID:
20927361
PMCID:
PMC2946958
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pbio.1000499
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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