Host cell manipulation and immunomodulation are important features of obligate intracellular parasites. Yet, the precise mechanisms leading to systemic dissemination of intracellular parasites (acute infection) and life-long persistence in the central nervous system (chronic infection) of the human or animal hosts remain enigmatic.

The processes of host-cell interaction, systemic dissemination and persistence are studied using molecular and cellular experimental approaches and various imaging modalities. Understanding the immune evasion strategies utilized by Toxoplasma and how it orchestrates the subversion of leukocytes may provide key elements of pathogenesis and on the rationale for designing future prophylaxis.

 

Keywords

Apicomplexan parasites, dendritic cells, microglia, cell migration, motility, host-pathogen, GABAergic signalling, biophotonic imaging

 

Dendritic cell (green) infected by Toxoplasma gondii (red)

 

Selected publications

Weidner JM, Barragan A. (2013) Tightly regulated migratory subversion of immune cells
promotes the dissemination of Toxoplasma gondii
. Int J Parasitol. S0020-7519(13)00254-3.

Weidner JM, Kanatani S, Hernández-Castañeda MA, Fuks JM, Rethi B, Wallin RP,
Barragan A. (2013) Rapid cytoskeleton remodelling in dendritic cells following invasion
by Toxoplasma gondii coincides with the onset of a hypermigratory phenotype
. Cell
Microbiol
. 15(10):1735-52.

Fuks JM, Arrighi RB, Weidner JM, Kumar Mendu S, Jin Z, Wallin RP, Rethi B,
Birnir B, Barragan A. (2012) GABAergic signaling is linked to a hypermigratory phenotype in dendritic cells infected by Toxoplasma gondii. PLoS Pathog. 8(12):e1003051.

Collantes-Fernandez E, Arrighi RB, Alvarez-García G, Weidner JM, Regidor-Cerrillo J, Boothroyd JC, Ortega-Mora LM, Barragan A. (2012) Infected dendritic cells facilitate systemic dissemination and transplacental passage of the obligate intracellular parasite Neospora caninum in mice. PLoS One.
7(3):e32123.

Dellacasa-Lindberg I, Fuks JM, Arrighi RB, Lambert H, Wallin RP, Chambers BJ, Barragan A. (2011) Migratory activation of primary cortical microglia upon infection with Toxoplasma gondii. Infect Immun. 79(8):3046-52.


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