Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular protozoa parasite that causes the disease toxoplasmosis. It resides within host cells in a parasitophorous vacuole distinct from the host cell endocytic system. T. gondii was used as a model to investigate how obligate intracellular parasites alter their gene expression in response to the host immune response during infection compared to growth in host cells in vitro. While bacterial pathogens clearly alter gene expression to adapt to the host environment during infection, the degree to which the external environment affects gene expression by obligate intracellular pathogens sequestered within host cells is less clear. The global transcriptome of T. gondii was analyzed in vivo in the presence and absence of the IFN-γ-dependent host innate immune response. The parasites' in vivo transcriptome was also compared to its transcriptome in vitro in fibroblast cells. Our results indicate that the parasite transcriptome is significantly altered during in vivo infection in the presence, but not absence, of IFN-γ-dependent immunity compared with fibroblasts infected in vitro. Many of the parasite genes increased in vivo appear to be common to an early general stress response by the parasite; surprisingly putative oocyst stage specific genes were also disproportionately increased during infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)