Cyclic nucleotide signaling in Toxoplasma gondii bradyzoite differentiation

L. A. Kirkman, L. M. Weiss, K. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


The ability of Toxoplasma gondii tachyzoites to differentiate into latent bradyzoite forms is essential for pathogenesis of clinical disease. We examined the effects of cyclic nucleotides on T. gondii bradyzoite differentiation in vitro. Differentiation of tachyzoites to bradyzoites was measured in an immunofluorescence assay using ME49 or its clonal derivative PLK, two well-characterized T. gondii strains. Treatment of human fibroblast cultures infected with T. gondii with 8-(4-chlorophenylthio)-cyclic GMP (CPT-cGMP), a membrane-permeable, nonhydrolyzable analogue of cGMP, resulted in an increased percentage of bradyzoite-positive vacuoles. Cyclic AMP (cAMP) also induced in vitro conversion of PLK, but the method of cAMP elevation was critical. Forskolin raises cAMP levels transiently and induced bradyzoites, whereas agents predicted to cause sustained elevation of cAMP were inhibitory to parasite conversion. Levels of cAMP were measured in host cells and extracellular tachyzoites. Forskolin, CPT-cGMP, and agents known to induce bradyzoite formation elevated cAMP in host cells and PLK parasites. These data suggest cyclic nucleotide signaling pathways are important in the stress-induced conversion of T. gondii tachyzoites to bradyzoites. Furthermore, because cAMP elevation was seen in PLK but not RH, a T. gondii strain that did not differentiate well in our assay, cAMP signaling within the parasite is likely to be critical.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-153
Number of pages6
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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