Editors' ChoiceVirology

Injectable Virulence

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Science's STKE  19 Dec 2006:
Vol. 2006, Issue 366, pp. tw428
DOI: 10.1126/stke.3662006tw428

Little is known about the molecular determinants of virulence in eukaryotic pathogens like Toxoplasma gondii and malaria. Progress has been hampered by inefficient genetic tools, large genomes, and complex life cycles. Using forward genetic analysis, Taylor et al. and Saeij et al. show that a few clustered genes on a single chromosome control the dramatic difference seen in the virulence of natural lineages of the parasite T. gondii. The most important of these genes encodes a conserved serine/threonine kinase that is injected into the host cell. Although this process is reminiscent of type III secretion in bacteria, it is mechanistically and evolutionarily distinct.

S. Taylor, A. Barragan, C. Su, B. Fux, S. J. Fentress, K. Tang, W. L. Beatty, H. El Hajj, M. Jerome, M. S. Behnke, M. White, J. C. Wootton, L. D. Sibley, A secreted serine-threonine kinase determines virulence in the eukaryotic pathogen Toxoplasma gondii. Science 314, 1776-1780 (2006). [Abstract] [Full Text]

J. P. J. Saeij, J. P. Boyle, S. Coller, S. Taylor, L. D. Sibley, E. T. Brooke-Powell, J. W. Ajioka, J. C. Boothroyd, Polymorphic secreted kinases are key virulence factors in toxoplasmosis. Science 314, 1780-1783 (2006). [Abstract] [Full Text]