Molecular and biochemical parasitology

Inhibition of Toxoplasma gondii growth by pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate is cell cycle specific and leads to population synchronization.

PMID 17976834


Successful completion of the Toxoplasma cell cycle requires the coordination of a series of complex and ordered processes that results in the formation of two daughters by internal budding. Although we now understand the order and timing of intracellular events associated with the parasite cell cycle, the molecular details of the checkpoints that regulate each step in Toxoplasma gondii division is still uncertain. In other eukaryotic cells, the use of cytostatic inhibitors that are able to arrest replication at natural checkpoints have been exploited to induce synchronization of population growth. Herein, we describe a novel method to synchronize T. gondii tachyzoites based on the reversible growth inhibition by the drug and pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate. This method is an improvement over other strategies developed for this parasites as no prior genetic manipulation of the parasite was required. RH tachyzoites blocked by pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate exhibited a near uniform haploid DNA content and single centrosome indicating that this compound arrests parasites in the G1 phase of the tachyzoite cell cycle with a minor block in late cytokinesis. Thus, these studies support the existence of a natural checkpoint that regulates passage through the G1 period of the cell cycle. Populations released from pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate inhibition completed progression through G1 and entered S phase approximately 2 h post-drug release. The transit of drug-synchronized populations through S phase and mitosis followed a similar timeframe to previous studies of the tachyzoite cell cycle. Tachyzoites treated with pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate were fully viable and completed two identical division cycles post-drug release demonstrating that this is a robust method for synchronizing population growth in Toxoplasma.