Toxoplasma gondii exploits the host ESCRT machinery for parasite uptake of host cytosolic proteins

Yolanda Rivera-Cuevas, Joshua Mayoral, Manlio Di Cristina, Anna Lisa E. Lawrence, Einar B. Olafsson, Romir K. Patel, Dishari Thornhill, Benjamin S. Waldman, Akira Ono, Jonathan Z. Sexton, Sebastian Lourido, Louis M. Weiss, Vern B. Carruthers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Toxoplasma gondii is a master manipulator capable of effectively siphoning the resources from the host cell for its intracellular subsistence. However, the molecular underpinnings of how the parasite gains resources from its host remain largely unknown. Residing within a non-fusogenic parasitophorous vacuole (PV), the parasite must acquire resources across the limiting membrane of its replicative niche, which is decorated with parasite proteins including those secreted from dense granules. We discovered a role for the Endosomal Sorting Complex Required for Transport (ESCRT) machinery in host cytosolic protein uptake by T. gondii by disrupting host ESCRT function. We identified the transmembrane dense granule protein TgGRA14, which contains motifs homologous to the late domain motifs of HIV-1 Gag, as a candidate for the recruitment of the host ESCRT machinery to the PV membrane. Using an HIV-1 virus-like particle (VLP) release assay, we found that the motif-containing portion of TgGRA14 is sufficient to substitute for HIV-1 Gag late domain to mediate ESCRT-dependent VLP budding. We also show that TgGRA14 is proximal to and interacts with host ESCRT components and other dense granule proteins during infection. Furthermore, analysis of TgGRA14-deficient parasites revealed a marked reduction in ingestion of a host cytosolic protein compared to WT parasites. Thus, we propose a model in which T. gondii recruits the host ESCRT machinery to the PV where it can interact with TgGRA14 for the internalization of host cytosolic proteins across the PV membrane (PVM). These findings provide new insight into how T. gondii accesses contents of the host cytosol by exploiting a key pathway for vesicular budding and membrane scission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1010138
JournalPLoS pathogens
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Virology


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