Microbiology

Not So Silent Passenger

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Science  16 Feb 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5507, pp. 1161
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5507.1161b

The intracellular parasites responsible for diseases such as malaria and toxoplasmosis contain a secondary endosymbiotic plastid, known as the apicoplast, thought to have been derived from eukaryotic algae. The role of the apicoplast in virulence has been unclear. Whilst making transfected Toxoplasma gondii that expressed a fluorescently-tagged apicoplast protein, He et al. noticed the appearance of apicoplasts with significant morphological abnormalities; these apicoplasts were not replicated during growth of the parasites in the first cycle of infection. The apicoplast-deficient progeny parasites could infect a second host cell successfully but subsequently failed to grow and propagate. These findings confirm the contribution of the apicoplast to Toxoplasma pathogenicity and call attention to it as a potential target for therapeutic intervention. — SMH

EMBO J.20, 330 (2001).

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