Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular parasite for which the discharge of apical organelles named rhoptries is a key event in host cell invasion. Among rhoptry proteins, ROP2, which is the prototype of a large protein family, is translocated in the parasitophorous vacuole membrane during invasion. The ROP2 family members are related to protein-kinases, but only some of them are predicted to be catalytically active, and none of the latter has been characterized so far. We show here that ROP18, a member of the ROP2 family, is located in the rhoptries and relocalises at the parasitophorous vacuole membrane during invasion. We demonstrate that a recombinant ROP18 catalytic domain (amino acids 243-539) possesses a protein-kinase activity and phosphorylate parasitic substrates, especially a 70-kDa protein of tachyzoites. Furthermore, we show that overexpression of ROP18 in transgenic parasites causes a dramatic increase in intra-vacuolar parasite multiplication rate, which is correlated with kinase activity. Therefore, we demonstrate, to our knowledge for the first time, that rhoptries can discharge active protein-kinases upon host cell invasion, which can exert a long-lasting effect on intracellular parasite development and virulence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology