Toxoplasmosis research published in Nature

Issued: Fri, 13 Sep 2019 13:01:00 BST

Research published in Nature and led by the Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation's Dr Javier Periz and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München's Professor Markus Meissner has provided an invaluable insight into Toxoplasmosis.

Toxoplasmasis is a parasitic disease caused by Toxoplasmi gondii that affects one third of the human population worldwide. In immunocompromised individuals and pregnant women, the parasite causes severe disease, including life-threatening encephalitis and foetal abnormalities.

Dr Periz and Prof Meissner's study has begun the process of describing how Toxoplasma parasites recycle essential organelles for infections using a communication network made of the cytoskeletal protein actin to produce a mature infective parasite

This breakthrough has opened a new area of research with the potential to disrupt parasite replication and development and, ultimately, eradicate the disease.

Meisser said: “This study shows that the parasite has an efficient mechanism to recycle valuable material from mother to the daughter by using a complex network of actin cytoskeleton.

"We show a new function for parasite actin in protein transport, which goes beyond the known role of actin associated to cell motility. Because parasite actin is regulated by a very few number of proteins.

"This study opens a new area of research of actin associated proteins with potential to disrupt parasite replication and development.”

Dr Periz added: “Interestingly, the work also help to redefine the biological role of the residual body, a parasite structure that was not well understood in these parasites.

“Here we demonstrate that, rather than the suggested role for storing parasite debris, it is an active sorting station for recycling and exchange material needed for parasite propagation.

"Overall, the study shows that despite being parasites, these organisms treat their resources economically and almost quantitatively recycle their organelles.”

Read the full study here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-12136-2