PLoS pathogens

Quantitative in vivo analyses reveal calcium-dependent phosphorylation sites and identifies a novel component of the Toxoplasma invasion motor complex.

PMID 21980283


Apicomplexan parasites depend on the invasion of host cells for survival and proliferation. Calcium-dependent signaling pathways appear to be essential for micronemal release and gliding motility, yet the target of activated kinases remains largely unknown. We have characterized calcium-dependent phosphorylation events during Toxoplasma host cell invasion. Stimulation of live tachyzoites with Ca²⁺-mobilizing drugs leads to phosphorylation of numerous parasite proteins, as shown by differential 2-DE display of ³²[P]-labeled protein extracts. Multi-dimensional Protein Identification Technology (MudPIT) identified ∼546 phosphorylation sites on over 300 Toxoplasma proteins, including 10 sites on the actomyosin invasion motor. Using a Stable Isotope of Amino Acids in Culture (SILAC)-based quantitative LC-MS/MS analyses we monitored changes in the abundance and phosphorylation of the invasion motor complex and defined Ca²⁺-dependent phosphorylation patterns on three of its components--GAP45, MLC1 and MyoA. Furthermore, calcium-dependent phosphorylation of six residues across GAP45, MLC1 and MyoA is correlated with invasion motor activity. By analyzing proteins that appear to associate more strongly with the invasion motor upon calcium stimulation we have also identified a novel 15-kDa Calmodulin-like protein that likely represents the MyoA Essential Light Chain of the Toxoplasma invasion motor. This suggests that invasion motor activity could be regulated not only by phosphorylation but also by the direct binding of calcium ions to this new component.