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Infect Immun. 2013 Jun;81(6):2002-11. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01145-12. Epub 2013 Mar 18.

CD40 induces anti-Toxoplasma gondii activity in nonhematopoietic cells dependent on autophagy proteins.

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Department of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.


Toxoplasma gondii infects both hematopoietic and nonhematopoietic cells and can cause cerebral and ocular toxoplasmosis, as a result of either congenital or postnatally acquired infections. Host protection likely acts at both cellular levels to control the parasite. CD40 is a key factor for protection against cerebral and ocular toxoplasmosis. We determined if CD40 induces anti-T. gondii activity at the level of nonhematopoietic cells. Engagement of CD40 on various endothelial cells including human microvascular brain endothelial cells, human umbilical vein endothelial cells, and a mouse endothelial cell line as well as human and mouse retinal pigment epithelial cells resulted in killing of T. gondii. CD40 stimulation increased expression of the autophagy proteins Beclin 1 and LC3 II, enhanced autophagy flux, and led to recruitment of LC3 around the parasite. The late endosomal/lysosomal marker LAMP-1 accumulated around the parasite in CD40-stimulated cells. This was accompanied by killing of T. gondii dependent on lysosomal enzymes. Accumulation of LAMP-1 and killing of T. gondii were dependent on the autophagy proteins Beclin 1 and Atg7. Together, these studies revealed that CD40 induces toxoplasmacidal activity in various nonhematopoietic cells dependent on proteins of the autophagy machinery.

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