Calcium Entry in Toxoplasma gondii and its Enhancing Effect of Invasion-linked Traits [Signal Transduction]

May 27th, 2014 by Pace, D. A., Mcknight, C. A., Liu, J., Jimenez, V., Moreno, S. N. J.

During invasion and egress from their host cells Apicomplexan parasites face sharp changes in the surrounding calcium ion (Ca2+) concentration. Our work with Toxoplasma gondii provides evidence for Ca2+ influx from the extracellular milieu leading to cytosolic Ca2+ increase and enhancement of virulence traits, such as gliding motility, conoid extrusion, microneme secretion, and host cell invasion. Assays of Mn2+ and Ba2+ uptake do not support a canonical store regulated Ca2+ entry mechanism. Ca2+ entry was blocked by the L-type Ca2+ channel inhibitor nifedipine and stimulated by the increase in cytosolic Ca2+ and by the specific L-type Ca2+ channel agonist Bay K-8644. Our results demonstrate that Ca2+ entry is critical for parasite virulence. We propose a regulated Ca2+ entry mechanism activated by cytosolic Ca2+ that has an enhancing effect on invasion-linked traits.