Translational Control in the Latency of Apicomplexan Parasites

Trends Parasitol. 2017 Dec;33(12):947-960. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2017 Sep 20.


Apicomplexan parasites Toxoplasma gondii and Plasmodium spp. use latent stages to persist in the host, facilitate transmission, and thwart treatment of infected patients. Therefore, it is important to understand the processes driving parasite differentiation to and from quiescent stages. Here, we discuss how a family of protein kinases that phosphorylate the eukaryotic initiation factor-2 (eIF2) function in translational control and drive differentiation. This translational control culminates in reprogramming of the transcriptome to facilitate parasite transition towards latency. We also discuss how eIF2 phosphorylation contributes to the maintenance of latency and provides a crucial role in the timing of reactivation of latent parasites towards proliferative stages.

Keywords: Plasmodium; Toxoplasma; eIF2; latency; translational control.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Apicomplexa / genetics
  • Apicomplexa / physiology*
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-2 / metabolism*
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / genetics
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Life Cycle Stages / genetics
  • Life Cycle Stages / physiology*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism*
  • Transcriptome*


  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-2
  • Protozoan Proteins