Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Newly identified protein Pcr2 is necessary for toxoplasma parasite movement – possible treatment target

18 January 2023

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Apicomplexan parasites attack cells head on. There are thousands of species of these parasites, and they cause diseases from malaria to toxoplasmosis, but they all share certain characteristics, including key features of their movement. A new study examining how the particularly successful Toxoplasma gondii invades cells and spreads through tissues, investigated the apical complex at the leading tip of the parasite that connects first with cells. The researchers discovered a new component, the Preconoidal region protein 2 (Pcr2, stained green, gathered at the tips of the parasite pictured). Parasites with Pcr2 removed moved in a spasmodic way, which reduced their ability to move in and out of cells, limiting the destruction they could cause to host tissues and interrupting the life cycle. This opens up new avenues of understanding around how mechanical interactions impact parasite motility, how persistent movement influences invasiveness, and perhaps points to new approaches to tackle infection.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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