Toxoplasma gondii is an intracellular parasite that transitions from acute infection to a chronic infective state in its intermediate host via encystation, which enables the parasite to evade immune detection and clearance. It is widely accepted that the tissue cyst perimeter is highly and specifically decorated with glycan modifications; however, the role of these modifications in the establishment and persistence of chronic infection has not been investigated. Here we identify and biochemically and biologically characterize a Toxoplasma nucleotide-sugar transporter (TgNST1) that is required for cyst wall glycosylation. Toxoplasma strains deleted for the TgNST1 gene (Δnst1) form cyst-like structures in vitro but no longer interact with lectins, suggesting that Δnst1 strains are deficient in the transport and use of sugars for the biosynthesis of cyst-wall structures. In vivo infection experiments demonstrate that the lack of TgNST1 activity does not detectably impact the acute (tachyzoite) stages of an infection or tropism of the parasite for the brain but that Δnst1 parasites are severely defective in persistence during the chronic stages of the infection. These results demonstrate for the first time the critical role of parasite glycoconjugates in the persistence of Toxoplasma tissue cysts.
During infection with the intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii, the presentation of parasite-derived antigens to CD4+ and CD8+ T cells is essential for long-term resistance to this pathogen. Fundamental questions remain regarding the roles of phagocytosis and active invasion in the events that lead to the processing and presentation of parasite antigens. To understand the most proximal events in this process, an attenuated non-replicating strain of T. gondii (the cpsII strain) was combined with a cytometry-based approach to distinguish active invasion from phagocytic uptake. In vivo studies revealed that T. gondii disproportionately infected dendritic cells and macrophages, and that infected dendritic cells and macrophages displayed an activated phenotype characterized by enhanced levels of CD86 compared to cells that had phagocytosed the parasite, thus suggesting a role for these cells in priming naïve T cells. Indeed, dendritic cells were required for optimal CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses, and the phagocytosis of heat-killed or invasion-blocked parasites was not sufficient to induce T cell responses. Rather, the selective transfer of cpsII-infected dendritic cells or macrophages (but not those that had phagocytosed the parasite) to naïve mice potently induced CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses, and conferred protection against challenge with virulent T. gondii. Collectively, these results point toward a critical role for actively infected host cells in initiating T. gondii-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses.
The acute phase of influenza infection is rarely associated with significant cognitive dysfunction. We describe a case of a 24 year-old man who developed global amnesia in the acute phase of influenza A infection. His deficits resolved over the course of several weeks. Transient abnormalities of diffusion and T2-weighted imaging were seen in the bilateral hippocampi. We review cerebral complications of influenza and discuss the possible role of previously proposed mechanisms in our patient's case.
Intracellular pathogens can replicate efficiently only after they manipulate and modify their host cells to create an environment conducive to replication. While diverse cellular pathways are targeted by different pathogens, metabolism, membrane and cytoskeletal architecture formation, and cell death are the three primary cellular processes that are modified by infections. Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular protozoan that infects ∼30% of the world's population and causes severe and life-threatening disease in developing fetuses, in immune-comprised patients, and in certain otherwise healthy individuals who are primarily found in South America. The high prevalence of Toxoplasma in humans is in large part a result of its ability to modulate these three host cell processes. Here, we highlight recent work defining the mechanisms by which Toxoplasma interacts with these processes. In addition, we hypothesize why some processes are modified not only in the infected host cell but also in neighboring uninfected cells.