Developmentally regulated biosynthesis of carbohydrate and storage polysaccharide during differentiation and tissue cyst formation in Toxoplasma gondii.
Coppin A., Dzierszinski F., Legrand S., Mortuaire M., Ferguson D., Tomavo S.
Toxoplasma gondii belongs to the Apicomplexa phylum, which comprises protozoan parasites of medical and veterinary significance, responsible for a wide variety of diseases in human and animals, including malaria, toxoplasmosis, coccidiosis and cryptosporidiosis. During infection in the intermediate host, T. gondii undergoes stage conversion between the rapidly replicating tachyzoite that is responsible for acute toxoplasmosis and the dormant or slowly dividing encysted bradyzoite. The tachyzoite-bradyzoite interconversion is central to the pathogenic process and is associated with the life-threatening recrudescence of infection observed in immunocompromised patients such as those suffering from AIDS. In chronic infections, the bradyzoites are located within tissue cysts found predominantly in brain and muscles. The tissue cyst is enclosed by a wall containing specific lectin binding sugars while the bradyzoites have accumulated large amounts of the storage polysaccharide of glucose, amylopectin. Our recent findings have identified several genes and proteins associated with amylopectin synthesis or degradation and glucose metabolism, including different isoforms of certain glycolytic enzymes, which are stage-specifically expressed during tachyzoite-bradyzoite interconversion. Here, we will discuss how the genes and enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolisms are used as molecular and biochemical tools for the elucidation of molecular mechanisms controlling T. gondii stage interconversion and cyst formation.