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Journal Articles Nature Microbiology Year : 2021

An Alveolata secretory machinery adapted to parasite host cell invasion

Serge Urbach
Yi-Wei Chang


Apicomplexa are unicellular eukaryotes and obligate intracellular parasites, including Plasmodium (the causative agent of malaria) and Toxoplasma (one of the most widespread zoonotic pathogens). Rhoptries, one of their specialized secretory organelles, undergo regulated exocytosis during invasion1. Rhoptry proteins are injected directly into the host cell to support invasion and subversion of host immune function2. The mechanism by which they are discharged is unclear and appears distinct from those in bacteria, yeast, animals and plants. Here, we show that rhoptry secretion in Apicomplexa shares structural and genetic elements with the exocytic machinery of ciliates, their free-living relatives. Rhoptry exocytosis depends on intramembranous particles in the shape of a rosette embedded into the plasma membrane of the parasite apex. Formation of this rosette requires multiple non-discharge (Nd) proteins conserved and restricted to Ciliata, Dinoflagellata and Apicomplexa that together constitute the superphylum Alveolata. We identified Nd6 at the site of exocytosis in association with an apical vesicle. Sandwiched between the rosette and the tip of the rhoptry, this vesicle appears as a central element of the rhoptry secretion machine. Our results describe a conserved secretion system that was adapted to provide defence for free-living unicellular eukaryotes and host cell injection in intracellular parasites.
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Dates and versions

inserm-03654158 , version 1 (28-04-2022)



Eleonora Aquilini, Marta Mendonça Cova, Shrawan Kumar Mageswaran, Nicolas dos Santos Pacheco, Daniela Sparvoli, et al.. An Alveolata secretory machinery adapted to parasite host cell invasion. Nature Microbiology, 2021, 6 (4), pp.425-434. ⟨10.1038/s41564-020-00854-z⟩. ⟨inserm-03654158⟩
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