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.

CREDIT: MOREDUN SCIENTIFIC LTD./SCIENCE SOURCE

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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