Participation of myosin in gliding motility and host cell invasion by Toxoplasma gondii

Janice M. Dobrowolski, Vern B. Carruthers, L. David Sibley

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196 Scopus citations


Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular parasite that actively invades mammalian cells using a unique form of gliding motility that critically depends on actin filaments in the parasite. To determine if parasite motility is driven by a myosin motor, we examined the distribution of myosin and tested the effects of specific inhibitors on gliding and host cell invasion. A single 90 kDa isoform of myosin was detected in parasite lysates using an antisera that recognizes a highly conserved myosin peptide. Myosin was localized in T. gondii beneath the plasma membrane in a circumferential pattern that overlapped with the distribution of actin. The myosin ATPase inhibitor, butanedione monoxime (BDM), reversibly inhibited gliding motility across serum-coated slides. The myosin light-chain kinase inhibitor, KT5926, also blocked parasite motility and greatly reduced host cell attachment; however, these effects were primarily caused by its ability to block the secretion of microneme proteins, which are involved in cell attachment. In contrast, while BDM partially reduced cell attachment, it prevented invasion even under conditions in which microneme secretion was not affected, indicating a potential role for myosin in cell entry. Collectively, these results indicate that myosin(s) probably participate(s) in powering gliding motility, a process that is essential for cell invasion by T. gondii.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-173
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997


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