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PLoS One. 2010 Dec 30;5(12):e14463. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0014463.

Genomic data reveal Toxoplasma gondii differentiation mutants are also impaired with respect to switching into a novel extracellular tachyzoite state.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont, United States of America.


Toxoplasma gondii pathogenesis includes the invasion of host cells by extracellular parasites, replication of intracellular tachyzoites, and differentiation to a latent bradyzoite stage. We present the analysis of seven novel T. gondii insertional mutants that do not undergo normal differentiation to bradyzoites. Microarray quantification of the variation in genome-wide RNA levels for each parasite line and times after induction allowed us to describe states in the normal differentiation process, to analyze mutant lines in the context of these states, and to identify genes that may have roles in initiating the transition from tachyzoite to bradyzoite. Gene expression patterns in wild-type parasites undergoing differentiation suggest a novel extracellular state within the tachyzoite stage. All mutant lines exhibit aberrant regulation of bradyzoite gene expression and notably some of the mutant lines appear to exhibit high proportions of the intracellular tachyzoite state regardless of whether they are intracellular or extracellular. In addition to the genes identified by the insertional mutagenesis screen, mixture model analysis allowed us to identify a small number of genes, in mutants, for which expression patterns could not be accounted for using the three parasite states--genes that may play a mechanistic role in switching from the tachyzoite to bradyzoite stage.

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