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Cell. 1996 Mar 22;84(6):933-9.

Toxoplasma invasion of mammalian cells is powered by the actin cytoskeleton of the parasite.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, 63110, USA.


Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular parasite that invades a wide range of vertebrate host cells. We demonstrate that invasion is critically dependent on actin filaments in the parasite, but not the host cell. Invasion into cytochalasin D (CD)-resistant host cells was blocked by CD, while parasite mutants invaded wild-type host cells in the presence of drug. CD resistance in Toxoplasma was mediated by a point mutation in the single-copy actin gene ACT1. Transfection of the mutant act1 allele into wild-type Toxoplasma conferred motility and invasion in the presence of CD. We conclude that host cell invasion by Toxoplasma, and likely by related Apicomplexans, is actively powered by an actin-based contractile system in the parasite.

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