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PLoS Pathog. 2011 Feb 10;7(2):e1001282. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1001282.

The C-terminus of Toxoplasma RON2 provides the crucial link between AMA1 and the host-associated invasion complex.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, United States of America.


Host cell invasion by apicomplexan parasites requires formation of the moving junction (MJ), a ring-like apposition between the parasite and host plasma membranes that the parasite migrates through during entry. The Toxoplasma MJ is a secreted complex including TgAMA1, a transmembrane protein on the parasite surface, and a complex of rhoptry neck proteins (TgRON2/4/5/8) described as host cell-associated. How these proteins connect the parasite and host cell has not previously been described. Here we show that TgRON2 localizes to the MJ and that two short segments flanking a hydrophobic stretch near its C-terminus (D3 and D4) independently associate with the ectodomain of TgAMA1. Pre-incubation of parasites with D3 (fused to glutathione S-transferase) dramatically reduces invasion but does not prevent injection of rhoptry bulb proteins. Hence, the entire C-terminal region of TgRON2 forms the crucial bridge between TgAMA1 and the rest of the MJ complex but this association is not required for rhoptry protein injection.

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