Toxoplasmosis: Evolution of Infection Machinery

Researchers have identified a protein that evolved concurrently with the emergence of cellular compartments crucial for the multiplication of the toxoplasmosis pathogen.

Toxoplasma gondii parasites

Toxoplasmosis is an infectious disease found worldwide, caused by the single-celled parasite Toxoplasma gondii. In humans, infection poses a particular risk to pregnant woman, as it can lead to birth defects. Like the closely related malaria pathogen – Plasmodium falciparum – and other related species, T. gondii possesses special organelles, so-called rhoptries and micronemes, for infecting the host cell. A team led by Professor Markus Meissner, Chair of Experimental Parasitology at LMU (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet, Muenchen), and Professor Joel Dacks from the University of Alberta (Canada) has now investigated the evolution of this infection machinery and identified an organelle-specific protein, which could become a promising target for new therapeutic approaches.

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