PARASITOLOGY

Integral to Invasion

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Science  23 May 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5623, pp. 1205
DOI: 10.1126/science.300.5623.1205a

Intracellular parasites such as Toxoplasma gondii invade vertebrate cells via internalization after binding to the plasma membrane. They then set themselves up to replicate within a privileged membrane-bound vacuole residing in the host cell cytoplasm. In examining this process, Huynh et al. discovered that the protein M2AP, which is found in the invasive organelle of the parasite (the microneme), is required for successful entry. Parasites engineered to lack M2AP were severely defective in host cell invasion. It appears that the absence of M2AP resulted in retention within the T. gondii endoplasmic reticulum of the integral membrane protein MIC2, which normally would be rapidly secreted upon host cell attachment. Together these two proteins appear to form an adhesion complex that promotes efficient parasite invasion at the point of host cell-parasite contact.—SMH

EMBO J. 22, 2082 (2003).

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