Toxoplasma gondii, microsporidiosis, stage differentiation, polar tube structure and function
Toxoplasmosis: Toxoplasma gondii is a well described ubiquitous Apicomplexan protozoan parasite of mammals and birds. Despite recent progress in understanding the biology and antigenic structure of the rapidly replicating form (tachyzoite), very little is known about the cyst form (bradyzoite). The bradyzoite stage of Toxoplasma gondii plays a critical role in maintenance of latent infection. The identification of cyst wall specific protiens as well as stress related proteins and their effects on bradyzoite development is proceeding in the laboratory.
Microsporidiosis: The phylum Microspora consists of organisms collectively known as microsporidia, that are "emerging" human and veterinary pathogens. A microsporidian-specific organelle, the polar tube, is involved in invasion. While the description of the polar tube as a unique microsporidian structure occurred over 100 years ago, the biochemical components of this structure and the mechanism of its formation during invasion remain to be definitively determined. The laboratory is focused on projects invovling the: (1) characterization of the structure and composition of the polar tube and spore wall, and (2) the identificiation of therapeutic targets for the treatment of microsporidiosis.
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