Novel Genetic Screen Provides Clues on How a Parasite (Toxoplasma gondii) Bests the Immune System

While the presence of harmful organisms in your home may be addressed by a call to the exterminator, harmful parasites in the body can be much harder to expel. A single-celled parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii (hereafter Toxoplasma) commonly infects humans and other animals, and the resulting condition, known as toxoplasmosis, can cause severe health issues in people with weakened immune systems. Recently, researchers in Japan have developed a tool to investigate how Toxoplasma promotes its survival within a host, shedding new light on potential strategies for the treatment and prevention of toxoplasmosis. In a study published June 1, 2023 in Cell Reports, researchers from Osaka University conducted a genetic screen using CRISPR technology in mice to confirm known genes and identify new genes involved in Toxoplasma fitness, i.e., the ability of the parasite to survive and thrive within a host. CRISPR genome editing is a method in which short fragments of genetic material known as guide RNAs (gRNAs) are utilized to modify specific sequences of DNA in the genome. The open-access article is titled “Host Genetics Highlights IFN- γ -Dependent Toxoplasma Genes Encoding Secreted and Non-Secreted Virulence Factors in In Vivo CRISPR Screens.”
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