University of Vermont

Not a simple tether: Binding of Toxoplasma gondii AMA1 to RON2 during invasion protects AMA1 from rhomboid-mediated cleavage and leads to dephosphorylation of its cytosolic tail


Nearly one-third of the world’s population is infected with the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which causes life-threatening disease in neonates and immunocompromised individuals. T. gondii is a member of the phylum Apicomplexa, which includes many other parasites of veterinary and medical importance, such as those that cause coccidiosis, babesiosis, and malaria. Apicomplexan parasites grow within their hosts through repeated cycles of host cell invasion, parasite replication, and host cell lysis. Parasites that cannot invade host cells cannot survive or cause disease. AMA1 is a highly conserved protein on the surface of apicomplexan parasites that is known to be important for invasion, and the work presented here reveals new and unexpected insights into AMA1 function. A more complete understanding of the role of AMA1 in invasion may ultimately contribute to the development of new chemotherapeutics designed to disrupt AMA1 function and invasion-related signaling in this important group of human pathogens.

mBio 7: e00754-16