Toxoplasma gondii is an intracellular parasite that causes chronic infection by the development of bradyzoites housed in tissue cysts, preferably in the muscles and central nervous system. The composition and the function of the cyst wall are still not fully understood. Are T. gondii cysts able to incorporate nutrients through its wall? If so, how would these nutrients be traversed to cross the cyst matrix to reach the bradyzoite forms? Herein, we tested the uptake capacity of the Toxoplasma tissue cyst wall by employing some fluid-phase endocytosis tracers as peroxidase (HRP) and bovine serum albumin (BSA). Fluorescence images revealed these molecules on the cyst wall as well as in the cyst matrix. The subcellular localization of the tracer was confirmed by ultrastructural analysis showing numerous labeled vesicles and tubules distributed within the cyst matrix in close association with intracystic bradyzoite membrane, suggesting the cyst wall as a route of nutrient uptake. Furthermore, we confirmed the presence of cytoskeleton proteins, such as tubulin, actin, and myosin, in the tissue cyst matrix that may explain the nutrient input mechanism through the cyst wall. A better understanding of the nutrient acquisition process by the cyst might potentially contribute to the development of new therapeutic targets against chronic toxoplasmosis.
Part of the book: Toxoplasmosis