Toxoplasma Full-Length cDNA Project (T.gondii)
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Last Updated (January 05, 2010)

About this Database
Toxoplasma Full-Length cDNA project

Junya Yamagishi1, Akio Ueno1, Junichi Watanabe2, Yutaka Suzuki3, Hiroyuki Wakaguri3, Keiko Toya3, Sumio Sugano3, Chihiro Sugimoto4, Makoto Igarashi1, Yoshifumi Nishikawa1, Xuenan Xuan1,
(1National Research Center for Protozoan Diseases, Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine,
2Department of Parasitology, Institute of Medical Science, The University of Tokyo,
3Department of Medical Genome Sciences, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo,
4Zoonosis Research Center, Hokkaido University )


1. Full-Toxoplasma is a database for transcriptome analysis of Toxoplasma gondii parasites, which contains our original data produced using the oligo-capping method, i.e., 1) full-length sequences of full-length cDNA clones and 2) TSS (transcription start site) sequences. They are shown along with the genome sequences, etc.

2. Recent introduction of the Solexa sequencers is now revolutionizing quantity and quality of our data, allowing analyses in depth. Our database contains thus determined full-length cDNA sequences which require revision of annotated gene structures and numerous TSS sequences which allow detailed and accurate expression analysis.


1-1. Toxoplasma

Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite which infects humans and animals, causing zoonosis. Its definitive host is cats. Many people are infected by ingestion of oocysts in the feces of cats or eating undercooked meat containing bradyzoite-stage parasites but few have symptoms. However, if the first infection occurs during the early pregnancy, the organisms infect fetus via placenta, causing severe diseases in the brain and eyes of the baby. Hydroencephalitis is the most severe form causing mental retardation, retinitis or retinochoroiditis causing blindness. In addition immunocompromized people may suffer from its recurrence causing encephalitis, cardiomyelitis, pneumonia or lymphadenitis.
Toxoplasma gondii is a close relative of malaria parasites and belongs to Apicomplex kingdom. Comparative biology of these two species is expected to elucidate naure of parasites.

1-2. The Toxoplasma gondii life cycle

Toxoplasma gondii

T. gondii is an obligate intracellular parasite and its life cycle includes both sexual and asexual modes of proliferation and transmission. The sexual cycle takes place exclusively in the intestinal enterocytes of many members of the cat family (Felidae). (a, b) After ingestion of tissue cysts, the parasites invade the enterocytes, undergo several rounds of division and (c) differentiate into microgametocytes and macrogametocytes. (d) The gametocytes fuse to form a zygote or'oocyst' that is shed into the environment with the cat's faeces. (e) The oocyst undergoes meiosis, producing an octet of highly infectious 'sporozoites' that are resistant to environmental damage and may persist for years in a moist environment. (f) After ingestion (by a secondary host such as a mouse), (g) sporozoites differentiate into the rapidly dividing 'tachyzoite' form, which establishes and sustains the acute infection. (h) During the acute infection, congenital transmission to the developing fetus can occur. (i) In many hosts, a chronic phase of the disease ensues, as the tachyzoite changes into a slowly dividing form known as the 'bradyzoite'. Latent bradyzoite tissue cysts persist for the life of the host, re-emerging occasionally, but do not produce overt disease in healthy individuals. (j) Carnivorous ingestion of tissue cysts can lead to the infection of a naive host, allowing for an indefinite nonsexual propagation of T.gondii. (k) In the cat, this will initiate the sexual cycle. The solid lines indicate parasite differentiation and the dashed lines indicate modes of transmission (Ajioka, JW. et al. Expert Rev. Mol. Med. 2001:1-19).

1-3. Ultrastructure of a Toxoplasma gondii tachyzoite

Toxoplasma gondii

The conoid defines the apical end of the parasite and is thought to be associated with the penetration of the host cell. Micronemes, rhoptries and dense granules are the three major secretory organelles, found predominately at the apical end of the parasite. Microneme proteins are released very early in the invasion process, facilitating host-cell binding and gliding motility. Rhoptry proteins are also released during invasion, and can be detected within the lumen and membrane of the newly generated parasitophorous vacuole (PV). Dense-granule proteins are released during and after the formation of the PV, modifying the PV environment for intracellular survival and replication of the parasite. The apicoplast is a plastid-like four-membrane organelle containing a 35 kb circular DNA. Most of the proteins functioning within the organelle are encoded by the nucleus, and are specifically targeted to the apicoplast. This targeting involves the secretory pathway, including the rough endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and a Golgi body situated immediately apical to the nucleus. Targeted proteins have a bipartite N-terminal extension, consisting of an ER signal sequence followed by a plastid transit peptide. T.gondii cells have a single nucleus and a single mitochondrion. It is hypothesised that reliance on the mitochondrion for cellular metabolism differs according to the life-cycle stage of the parasite (Ajioka, JW. et al. Expert Rev. Mol. Med. 2001:1-19).

  1. Toxoplasma
  2. Construction of Toxoplasma Full-Length cDNA Library
  3. Current Status

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