IRG proteins (immunity-related GTPases) provide an early defense mechanism in mice against the protozoal pathogen, Toxoplasma gondii. This is a particularly suitable time to provide a brief review of this host-pathogen interaction because the nature of the IRG resistance system, and to some extent its mode of action, have become known in the past few years. Likewise, forward genetic screens have recently drawn attention to a number of loci contributing to the differential virulence of T. gondii strains in mice. It is now clear that at least some important virulence mechanisms exert their action against components of the IRG resistance system. Thus these two mechanisms form the two poles of a dynamic host-pathogen virulence-resistance relationship with interesting and accessible properties.
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