Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS Pathog. 2011 Mar;7(3):e1002007. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1002007. Epub 2011 Mar 10.

The moving junction protein RON8 facilitates firm attachment and host cell invasion in Toxoplasma gondii.

Author information

Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA.


The apicomplexan moving junction (MJ) is a highly conserved structure formed during host cell entry that anchors the invading parasite to the host cell and serves as a molecular sieve of host membrane proteins that protects the parasitophorous vacuole from host lysosomal destruction. While recent work in Toxoplasma and Plasmodium has reinforced the composition of the MJ as an important association of rhoptry neck proteins (RONs) with micronemal AMA1, little is known of the precise role of RONs in the junction or how they are targeted to the neck subcompartment. We report the first functional analysis of a MJ/RON protein by disrupting RON8 in T. gondii. Parasites lacking RON8 are severely impaired in both attachment and invasion, indicating that RON8 enables the parasite to establish a firm clasp on the host cell and commit to invasion. The remaining junction components frequently drag in trails behind invading knockout parasites and illustrate a malformed complex without RON8. Complementation of Δron8 parasites restores invasion and reveals a processing event at the RON8 C-terminus. Replacement of an N-terminal region of RON8 with a mCherry reporter separates regions within RON8 that are necessary for rhoptry targeting and complex formation from those required for function during invasion. Finally, the invasion defects in Δron8 parasites seen in vitro translate to radically impaired virulence in infected mice, promoting a model in which RON8 has a crucial and unprecedented task in committing Toxoplasma to host cell entry.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center