During invasion and egress from their host cells, Apicomplexan parasites face sharp changes in the surrounding calcium ion (Ca(2+)) concentration. Our work with Toxoplasma gondii provides evidence for Ca(2+) influx from the extracellular milieu leading to cytosolic Ca(2+) increase and enhancement of virulence traits, such as gliding motility, conoid extrusion, microneme secretion, and host cell invasion. Assays of Mn(2+) and Ba(2+) uptake do not support a canonical store-regulated Ca(2+) entry mechanism. Ca(2+) entry was blocked by the L-type Ca(2+) channel inhibitor nifedipine and stimulated by the increase in cytosolic Ca(2+) and by the specific L-type Ca(2+) channel agonist Bay K-8644. Our results demonstrate that Ca(2+) entry is critical for parasite virulence. We propose a regulated Ca(2+) entry mechanism activated by cytosolic Ca(2+) that has an enhancing effect on invasion-linked traits.
Keywords: Calcium; Cell Invasion; Conoid Extrusion; Fluorescence; Gliding Motility; Nifedipine; Parasite; Protozoan; Signaling; Toxoplasma gondii.
© 2014 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.