Toxoplasma gondii infection has been described previously to cause infected mice to lose their fear of cat urine. This behavioral manipulation has been proposed to involve alterations of host dopamine pathways due to parasite-encoded aromatic amino acid hydroxylases. Here, we report successful knockout and complementation of the aromatic amino acid hydroxylase AAH2 gene, with no observable phenotype in parasite growth or differentiation in vitro and in vivo. Additionally, expression levels of the two aromatic amino acid hydroxylases were negligible both in tachyzoites and in bradyzoites. Finally, we were unable to confirm previously described effects of parasite infection on host dopamine either in vitro or in vivo, even when AAH2 was overexpressed using the BAG1 promoter. Together, these data indicate that AAH enzymes in the parasite do not cause global or regional alterations of dopamine in the host brain, although they may affect this pathway locally. Additionally, our findings suggest alternative roles for the AHH enzymes in T. gondii, since AAH1 is essential for growth in nondopaminergic cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1039-1047
Number of pages9
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015


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