Molecular cloning, organellar targeting and developmental expression of mitochondrial chaperone HSP60 in Toxoplasma gondii

Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2000 Dec;111(2):319-32. doi: 10.1016/s0166-6851(00)00324-8.


The obligate intracellular protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii has a single tubular mitochondrion. During infection, it recruits the host cell's mitochondria abutting to the intracellular vacuole, that contains the parasites. The respective contribution of host and parasitic mitochondria in the intracellular growth of T. gondii remains unknown. Heat shock protein, HSP60 has been reported in all eukaryotes examined, as an essential chaperone required for the folding and multimeric complex assembly of mitochondrial proteins. Here, we report the isolation and molecular characterization of two cDNAs corresponding to a single T. gondii gene coding for HSP60. Using a model fusion protein, preHSP60-chloramphenicol acetyl transferase (CAT), we demonstrate that the classical 22 amino acid mitochondrial presequence and the adjacent 32 amino acids of the mature protein are both required for the in vivo import into T. gondii mitochondria. The T. gondii HSP60 gene composed of five introns and six exons is transcribed into two related but differently spliced transcripts. Whereas the two transcripts can be detected in both developmental stages within the intermediate host, their levels are significantly increased in bradyzoites when compared to tachyzoites. By immunoblot analysis, the predicted 60-kDa protien corresponding to HSP60 was detected in both tachyzoite and bradyzoite forms. Using immunofluorescence assays. the polyclonal antibodies specific to T. gondii HSP60 recognized the mitochondrion in tachyzoites, as expected. In contrast, these antibodies reacted against two unknown vesicular bodies which are distinct from the classical mitochondrial pattern in bradyzoites. Taken together. these expression patterns of mitochondrial chaperone HSP60 suggests stage-specific induction of the respiratory pathway in the protozoan parasite T. gondii.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Chaperonin 60 / chemistry
  • Chaperonin 60 / genetics*
  • Chaperonin 60 / metabolism*
  • Chloramphenicol O-Acetyltransferase / genetics
  • Chloramphenicol O-Acetyltransferase / metabolism
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Gene Deletion
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Genes, Protozoan
  • Mice
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Toxoplasma / genetics
  • Toxoplasma / growth & development*
  • Toxoplasma / metabolism
  • Toxoplasma / ultrastructure


  • Chaperonin 60
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Chloramphenicol O-Acetyltransferase

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF065609
  • GENBANK/AF065610
  • GENBANK/AF116462