A Tail of Division

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Science  28 Jan 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6016, pp. 409-410
DOI: 10.1126/science.1201692

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A common mechanism of pathogen survival is to invade and replicate within the protective niche of a host cell. This is true for apicomplexan parasites, a group of medically and agriculturally important pathogens that includes the malaria-causing Plasmodium spp., and Toxoplasma gondii, the causative agent of toxoplasmosis. An apicomplexan parasite penetrates the host cell plasma membrane and replicates only after invasion is complete. Although there is some understanding of how these pathogens recognize and invade host cells, little has been known about the molecular steps that initiate replication. On page 473 of this issue, Santos et al. (1) show that invasion and replication are inextricably linked through the function of a key apicomplexan parasite protein, Apical Membrane Antigen 1 (AMA1) (24).