Autophagy. 2012 Mar 1;8(3). [Epub ahead of print]
Role of ATG3 in the parasite Toxoplasma gondii: Autophagy in an early branching eukaryote.
DIMNP; UMR 5235 CNRS; Université de Montpellier 2; Montpellier, France.
Toxoplasma gondii belongs to the phylum Apicomplexa, a diverse group of early branching unicellular eukaryotes related to dinoflagellates and ciliates. Like several other Apicomplexa such as Plasmodium (the causative agent of malaria), T. gondii is a human pathogen responsible for a potentially lethal disease called toxoplasmosis. Most Apicomplexa have complex life cycles, involving intermediate hosts and vectors, which include obligatory intracellular developmental stages. In the case of malaria and toxoplasmosis, it is that replicative process, leading to the ultimate lysis of the host cell, which is causing the symptoms of the disease. For Toxoplasma, the invasive and fast-replicating form of the parasite is called the tachyzoite. While autophagy has been a fast-growing field of research in recent years, not much was known about the relevance of this catabolic process in medically important apicomplexan parasites. Vesicles resembling autophagosomes had been described in drug-treated Plasmodium parasites in the early 1970s and a potential role for autophagy in organelle recycling during differentiation between Plasmodium life stages has also been recently described. Interestingly, recent database searches have identified putative orthologs of the core machinery responsible for the formation of autophagosomes in several protists, including Toxoplasma. In spite of an apparently reduced machinery (only about one-third of the yeast ATG genes appear to be conserved), T. gondii seemed thus able to perform macroautophagy, but the cellular functions of the pathway for this parasite remained to be demonstrated.
PMID: 22361579 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]