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)

 

Recent publications

Toxoplasma-Induced Hypermigration of Primary Cortical Microglia Implicates GABAergic Signaling. Bhandage A.K., Kanatani S., Barragan A.  Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol., 2019. https://doi.org/10.3389/fcimb.2019.00073

Calling in the CaValry—Toxoplasma gondii Hijacks GABAergic Signaling and Voltage-Dependent Calcium Channel Signaling for Trojan horse-Mediated Dissemination. Bhandage A. K., Barragan A. Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol., 2019. https://doi.org/10.3389/fcimb.2019.00061

Advances and Challenges in Understanding Cerebral Toxoplasmosis. Schlüter D, Barragan A. Front Immunol. 2019 Feb 14;10:242. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.00242. eCollection 2019.

TIMP-1 promotes hypermigration of Toxoplasma-infected primary dendritic cells via CD63-ITGB1-FAK signaling. Ólafsson EB, Ross EC, Varas-Godoy M, Barragan A.
J Cell Sci. 2019 Feb 4;132(3). pii: jcs225193. doi: 10.1242/jcs.225193.

Voltage-dependent calcium channel signaling mediates GABAA receptor-induced migratory activation of dendritic cells infected by Toxoplasma gondii. Kanatani S, Fuks JM, Olafsson EB, Westermark L, Chambers B, Varas-Godoy M, Uhlén P, Barragan A. PLoS Pathog. 2017 Dec 7;13(12):e1006739. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006739. eCollection 2017 Dec.

Toxoplasma gondii infection shifts dendritic cells into an amoeboid rapid migration mode encompassing podosome dissolution, secretion of TIMP-1, and reduced proteolysis of extracellular matrix. Ólafsson EB, Varas-Godoy M, Barragan A. Cell Microbiol. 2018 Mar;20(3). doi: 10.1111/cmi.12808.


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