Mol Syst Biol. 2013 Nov 19;9:708. doi: 10.1038/msb.2013.62.
Metabolic reconstruction identifies strain-specific regulation of virulence in Toxoplasma gondii
1] Program in Molecular Structure and Function, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada  Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Increasingly, metabolic potential is proving to be a critical determinant governing a pathogen's virulence as well as its capacity to expand its host range. To understand the potential contribution of metabolism to strain-specific infectivity differences, we present a constraint-based metabolic model of the opportunistic parasite, Toxoplasma gondii. Dominated by three clonal strains (Type I, II, and III demonstrating distinct virulence profiles), T. gondii exhibits a remarkably broad host range. Integrating functional genomic data, our model (which we term as iCS382) reveals that observed strain-specific differences in growth rates are driven by altered capacities for energy production. We further predict strain-specific differences in drug susceptibilities and validate one of these predictions in a drug-based assay, with a Type I strain demonstrating resistance to inhibitors that are effective against a Type II strain. We propose that these observed differences reflect an evolutionary strategy that allows the parasite to extend its host range, as well as result in a subsequent partitioning into discrete strains that display altered virulence profiles across different hosts, different organs, and even cell types.
- [PubMed - in process]