Novel Components of the Apicomplexan Moving Junction Reveal Conserved and Coccidia-Restricted Elements

Cell Microbiol. 2009 Apr;11(4):590-603. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-5822.2008.01276.x. Epub 2008 Dec 30.


Apicomplexan parasites generally invade their host cells by anchoring the parasite to the host membrane through a structure called the moving junction (MJ). This MJ is also believed to sieve host proteins from the nascent parasitophorous vacuole membrane, which likely protects the pathogen from lysosomal destruction. Previously identified constituents of the Toxoplasma MJ have orthologues in Plasmodium, indicating a conserved structure throughout the Apicomplexa. We report here two novel MJ proteins, RON5 and RON8. While RON5 is conserved in Plasmodium, RON8 appears restricted to the coccidia. RON8, which is likely essential, co-immunoprecipitates RON5 and known MJ proteins from extracellular parasites, indicating that a preformed complex exists within the parasites. Upon secretion, we show that RON8 within the MJ localizes to the cytoplasmic face of the host plasma membrane. To examine interactions between RON8 and the host cell, we expressed RON8 in mammalian cells and show that it targets to its site of action at the periphery in a manner dependent on the C-terminal portion of the protein. The discovery of RON5 and RON8 provides new insight into conserved and unique elements of the MJ, furthering our understanding of how the MJ contributes to the intricate mechanism of Apicomplexan invasion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apicomplexa / metabolism
  • Apicomplexa / pathogenicity
  • Apicomplexa / ultrastructure
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / parasitology*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Host-Parasite Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Kidney / cytology
  • Kidney / parasitology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Neospora* / metabolism
  • Neospora* / pathogenicity
  • Neospora* / ultrastructure
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism*
  • Toxoplasma* / metabolism
  • Toxoplasma* / pathogenicity
  • Toxoplasma* / ultrastructure


  • Protozoan Proteins