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The expression and distribution of dense granule proteins in the enteric (coccidian) forms of Toxoplasma gondii in the small intestine of the cat. Experimental Parasitology 91, 203-211. The expression and location of the dense granule proteins (GRA1-6 and NTPase) in the merozoite and during asexual and sexual development of Toxoplasma gondii in the small intestine of the cat (definitive host) was examined by immuno-light and electron microscopy. This was compared with that of tachyzoites and bradyzoites present in the intermediate host. It was found that the merozoite contained the characteristic apical organelles plus a few large dense granules. By immunocytochemistry, dense granules in merozoites were negative for GRA proteins 1 to 6 in contrast to both tachyzoites and bradyzoites in which dense granules were positive for all six proteins. The GRA proteins were associated with the parasitophorous vacuole (PV) during tachyzoite and bradyzoite development but were absent from the PV of the enteric stages. However, the merozoite dense granules were positive for NTPase, which was similar to the tachyzoite while this antigen was down regulated in the bradyzoite. The apparent release of the NTPases into the PV formed by merozoites was also similar to that described for the tachyzoite, possibly reflecting the relative metabolic activity of the various stages. This study shows that the majority of GRA proteins have a similar stage-specific expression, which is independent of NTPases expression. These observations are consistent with T. gondii having a different host parasite relationship in the enteric forms, which does not involve the GRA proteins 1-6.

Original publication




Journal article


Exp Parasitol

Publication Date





203 - 211


Acid Anhydride Hydrolases, Animals, Antigens, Protozoan, Cat Diseases, Cats, Cytoplasmic Granules, Immunohistochemistry, Intestine, Small, Mice, Microscopy, Immunoelectron, Nucleoside-Triphosphatase, Protozoan Proteins, Toxoplasma, Toxoplasmosis, Animal, Vacuoles