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Visualization of Toxoplasma gondii stage conversion by expression of stage-specific dual fluorescent proteins.

Research paper by A A Unno, K K Suzuki, T T Batanova, S-Y SY Cha, H-K HK Jang, K K Kitoh, Y Y Takashima

Indexed on: 17 Apr '09Published on: 17 Apr '09Published in: Parasitology



Abstract

To recognize the stage conversion of Toxoplasma gondii between tachyzoite and bradyzoite in live host cells, a transgenic T. gondii line, which expressed stage-specific red and green fluorescence, was constructed. T. gondii PLK strain tachyzoites were stably transformed with genes encoding red fluorescent protein (DsRed Express) and green fluorescent protein (GFP) under the control of tachyzoite-specific SAG1 and bradyzoite-specific BAG1 promoters, respectively. The resulting transgenic parasite was designated PLK/DUAL. When PLK/DUAL was cultured in pH 7.0 medium, the PLK/DUAL zoites expressed red fluorescence, but no detectable levels of green fluorescence were observed. The PLK/DUAL zoites reacted with anti-SAG1 antibody, but not anti-BAG1 antiserum. When PLK/DUAL was cultured under high pH conditions, or in the presence of the p38 MAPK inhibitor SB202190, a small number of zoites expressed green fluorescence and were BAG1 positive. C57BL/6J mice were infected with PLK/DUAL tachyzoites. During the acute and reactivating phase, zoites expressed red fluorescence. However, green fluorescence was not detectable. By contrast, latent cysts expressed green fluorescence. The stage-specific dual fluorescence of PLK/DUAL facilitates identification of the parasitic stage in live cells, with the advantage that fixation or immunostaining is not required.