Cell Biology

Mitochondria fight Toxoplasma for fat

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Science  04 May 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6388, pp. 504-505
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6388.504-d

Toxoplasma parasites (blue), shown here in their encysted stage within liver tissue, compete with mitochondria for lipids.


Mitochondria provide platforms for innate immunity. The intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii infects almost 50% of individuals in western countries and up to 90% in developing countries. Pernas et al. wanted to understand the role of mitochondrial morphology in the control of Toxoplasma growth. They discovered that parasite-infected cells displayed a marked reduction in host lipid droplets caused by Toxoplasma-induced droplet autophagy (lipophagy). Fatty acid flux analysis revealed the path of fatty acids from the droplets to the Toxoplasma-containing vacuole. Elongated mitochondria congregated around the vacuole and competed with Toxoplasma for the lipophagy-liberated fatty acids. When mitochondria could not fuse and elongate, or could not oxidize fatty acids, parasite growth was enhanced.

Cell Metab. 27, 886 (2018).

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