Friday, June 12, 2009

Plants, endosymbionts and parasites: Abscisic acid and calcium signaling

Commun Integr Biol. 2008 Jul;1(1):62-5.

Plants, endosymbionts and parasites: Abscisic acid and calcium signaling

Nagamune K, Xiong L, Chini E, Sibley LD.

Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences; University of Tsukuba; Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

It was recently discovered that the protozoan parasite, Toxoplasma gondii produces and uses the plant hormone, abscisic acid (ABA), for communication. Following intracellular replication, ABA production influences the timing of parasite egress from the host cell. This density-dependent signal may serve to coordinate exit from the host cell in a synchronous manner by triggering calcium-dependent activation of motility. In the absence of ABA production, parasites undergo differentiation to the semidormant, tissue cyst. The pathway for ABA production in T. gondii may be derived from a relict endosymbiont, acquired by ingestion of a red algal cell. Although the parasite has lost the capacity for photosynthesis, the plant-like nature of this signaling pathway may be exploited to develop new drugs. In support of this idea, an inhibitor of ABA biosynthesis protected mice against lethal infection with T. gondii. Here, we compare the role of ABA in parasites to its activities in plants, where it is know to control development and stress responses.

PMID: 19513200 [PubMed - in process]

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