Induction of mitotic S-phase of host and neighboring cells by Toxoplasma gondii enhances parasite invasion

Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2009 Mar;164(1):95-9. doi: 10.1016/j.molbiopara.2008.11.014. Epub 2008 Dec 6.


The intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii extensively modifies its host cell so as to efficiently grow and divide. Among these cellular changes, T. gondii alters the cell cycle of host cells it has invaded. We found that T. gondii affects the cell cycle of not only the cells it directly invades, but neighboring cells as well. Both direct invasion by T. gondii and exposure to filtered medium from cultures of T. gondii-infected cells (conditioned medium) caused normally quiescent fibroblasts to enter S-phase. T. gondii has been shown to attach to and invade S-phase host cells more readily, and we found that conditioned medium increased the rate of invasion of T. gondii into new host cells. Thus it appears that T. gondii directly releases, or induces parasitized host cells to release, a factor that induces neighboring cells to enter S-phase, allowing more rapid invasion by extracellular T. gondii and providing a possible selective advantage for the parasite.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Culture Media, Conditioned / pharmacology
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mitosis / drug effects*
  • S Phase / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Toxoplasma / physiology*
  • Toxoplasmosis / parasitology*


  • Culture Media, Conditioned