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Int J Parasitol. 1998 Jul;28(7):1007-13.

Apical organelles and host-cell invasion by Apicomplexa.

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Unité 42 INSERM, Villeneuve d'Ascq, France.


Host-cell invasion by apicomplexan parasites involves the successive exocytosis of three different secretory organelles; namely micronemes, rhoptries and dense granules. The findings of recent studies have extended the structural homologies of each set of organelles between most members of the phylum and suggest shared functions of each set. Micronemes are apparently used for host-cell recognition, binding, and possibly motility; rhoptries for parasitophorous vacuole formation; and dense granules for remodeling the vacuole into a metabolically active compartment. In addition, gene cloning and sequencing have demonstrated conserved domains, which are likely to serve similar functions in the invasion process. This is especially true for microneme proteins containing thrombospondin-like domains, which are likely to be involved in binding to sulphated glycoconjugates. One such protein was recently shown to be required for the motility of Plasmodium sporozoites. These molecules have been shown to be shed on the parasite and/or cell surfaces during the invasion process in Plasmodium, Toxoplasma and Eimeria. For rhoptries and dense granules, the association between exocytosed proteins and the parasitophorous vacuole membrane had been analyzed extensively in Toxoplasma, as these proteins are likely to play a crucial role in metabolic interactions between the parasites and their host cells. The development of parasite transformation by gene transfection has provided powerful tools to analyze the fate and function(s) of the corresponding proteins.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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