University of Vermont

The Toxoplasma gondii rhoptry protein ROP4 is secreted into the parasitophorous vacuole and becomes phosphorylated in infected cells


Many intracellular pathogens are separated from the cytosol of their host cells by a vacuole membrane. This membrane serves as a critical interface between the pathogen and the host cell, across which nutrients are imported, wastes are excreted, and communication between the two cells takes place. Very little is known about the vacuole membrane proteins mediating these processes in any host-pathogen interaction. During a screen for monoclonal antibodies against novel surface or secreted proteins of Toxoplasma gondii, we identified ROP4, a previously uncharacterized member of the ROP2 family of proteins. We report here on the sequence, posttranslational processing, and subcellular localization of ROP4, a type I transmembrane protein. Mature, processed ROP4 is localized to the rhoptries, secretory organelles at the apical end of the parasite, and is secreted from the parasite during host cell invasion. Released ROP4 associates with the vacuole membrane and becomes phosphorylated in the infected cell. Similar results are seen with ROP2. Further analysis of ROP4 showed it to be phosphorylated on multiple sites, a subset of which result from the action of either host cell protein kinase(s) or parasite kinase(s) activated by host cell factors. The localization and posttranslational modification of ROP4 and other members of the ROP2 family of proteins within the infected cell make them well situated to play important roles in vacuole membrane function.

Eukaryot Cell 3:1320-1330