Targeting of soluble proteins to the rhoptries and micronemes in Toxoplasma gondii

Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2001 Mar;113(1):45-53. doi: 10.1016/s0166-6851(00)00379-0.


Rhoptry and microneme organelles of the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii are closely associated with host cell adhesion/invasion and establishment of the intracellular parasitophorous vacuole. In order to study the targeting of proteins to these specialized secretory organelles, we have engineered green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusions to the rhoptry protein ROP1 and the microneme protein MIC3. Both chimeras are correctly targeted to the appropriate organelles, permitting deletion analysis to map protein subdomains critical for targeting. The propeptide and a central 146 amino acid region of ROP1 are sufficient to target GFP to the rhoptries. More extensive deletions result in a loss of rhoptry targeting; the GFP reporter is diverted into the parasitophorous vacuole via dense granules. Certain MIC3 deletion mutants were also secreted into the parasitophorous vacuole via dense granules, supporting the view that this route constitutes the default pathway in T. gondii, and that specific signals are required for sorting to rhoptries and micronemes. Deletions within the cysteine-rich central region of MIC3 cause this protein to be arrested at various locations within the secretory pathway, presumably due to improper folding. Although correctly targeted to the appropriate organelles in living parasites, ROP1-GFP and MIC3-GFP fusion proteins were not secreted during invasion. GFP fusion proteins were readily secreted from dense granules, however, suggesting that protein secretion from rhoptries and micronemes might involve more than a simple release of organellar contents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adhesins, Bacterial*
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / analysis
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Gene Deletion
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins / analysis
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Mutation
  • Organelles / metabolism
  • Protozoan Proteins / analysis
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism*
  • Toxoplasma / genetics
  • Toxoplasma / metabolism*
  • Transfection


  • Adhesins, Bacterial
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • MIC3 protein, Toxoplasma gondii
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • ROP 1 protein, Toxoplasma gondii
  • red fluorescent protein
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins