How One Eukaryotic Cell Invades Another: Dissecting Invasion by Apicomplexa
The phylum Apicomplexa includes several of the most prevalent and important human eukaryotic
pathogens, such as Plasmodium spp., which causes malaria, and Toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis.
Host cell invasion by these obligatory intracellular parasites is a remarkable and active process that
depends on protein injection into the host cell and involves the coordinated action of apical organelles and
cytoskeletal components. By coupling molecular tools with state-of-the-art imaging techniques, including
cryogenic-electron microscopy, we revealed striking conservation and differences in the invasion machinery
used by Toxoplasma and Plasmodium. We identified mechanistic processes that promote protein secretion
and resolved structural elements in the invasion machinery at subnanometer resolution, providing new information
on how these important parasites accomplish the essential step of invasion.