Myosin-dependent cell-cell communication controls synchronicity of division in acute and chronic stages of Toxoplasma gondii

Nat Commun. 2017 Jun 8:8:15710. doi: 10.1038/ncomms15710.


The obligate intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii possesses a repertoire of 11 myosins. Three class XIV motors participate in motility, invasion and egress, whereas the class XXII myosin F is implicated in organelle positioning and inheritance of the apicoplast. Here we provide evidence that TgUNC acts as a chaperone dedicated to the folding, assembly and function of all Toxoplasma myosins. The conditional ablation of TgUNC recapitulates the phenome of the known myosins and uncovers two functions in parasite basal complex constriction and synchronized division within the parasitophorous vacuole. We identify myosin J and centrin 2 as essential for the constriction. We demonstrate the existence of an intravacuolar cell-cell communication ensuring synchronized division, a process dependent on myosin I. This connectivity contributes to the delayed death phenotype resulting from loss of the apicoplast. Cell-cell communication is lost in activated macrophages and during bradyzoite differentiation resulting in asynchronized, slow division in the cysts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apicoplasts / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Movement
  • Female
  • Gene Deletion
  • Gene Silencing
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Molecular Chaperones / metabolism
  • Myosins / metabolism*
  • Phenotype
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism*
  • Toxoplasma / metabolism*
  • Toxoplasmosis / parasitology*
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination / metabolism*


  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination
  • Myosins