Sequential protein secretion from three distinct organelles of Toxoplasma gondii accompanies invasion of human fibroblasts

Eur J Cell Biol. 1997 Jun;73(2):114-23.


Invasion of vertebrate cells by the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii is accompanied by regulated protein secretion from three distinct parasite organelles called micronemes, rhoptries, and dense granules. We have compared the kinetics of secretion from these different compartments during host cell invasion using immunofluorescence, immunoelectron microscopy, and quantitative immunoassays. Binding to the host cell triggered apical release of the micronemal protein MIC2 at the tight attachment zone that forms between the parasite and the host cell. In a second step, invagination of the host cell plasma membrane was initiated by discharge of the rhoptry protein ROP1 to form a nascent parasitophorous vacuole (PV). ROP1 was fully discharged into the vacuole by the time invasion was complete. In contrast to these very rapid early events, release of the dense granule markers GRA1 and NTPase was delayed until after the parasite was fully within the PV, eventually peaking at 20 min post-invasion. The sequential triggering of secretion from different organelles implies that their release is governed by separate signals and that their contents mediate distinct phases of intracellular parasitism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acid Anhydride Hydrolases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / metabolism
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / ultrastructure
  • Fibroblasts / parasitology
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Kinetics
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron
  • Models, Biological
  • Nucleoside-Triphosphatase
  • Organelles / metabolism
  • Organelles / ultrastructure
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism*
  • Solubility
  • Toxoplasma / pathogenicity
  • Toxoplasma / physiology*
  • Toxoplasma / ultrastructure
  • Vacuoles / metabolism
  • Vacuoles / ultrastructure


  • Protozoan Proteins
  • rhoptry associated protein, Plasmodium
  • Acid Anhydride Hydrolases
  • Nucleoside-Triphosphatase