Toxoplasma gondii Toxolysin 4 Contributes to Efficient Parasite Egress from Host Cells

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Egress from host cells is an essential step in the lytic cycle of T. gondii and other apicomplexan parasites; however, only a few parasite secretory proteins are known to affect this process. The putative metalloproteinase toxolysin 4 (TLN4) was previously shown to be an extensively processed microneme protein, but further characterization was impeded by the inability to genetically ablate TLN4. Here, we show that TLN4 has the structural properties of an M16 family metalloproteinase, that it possesses proteolytic activity on a model substrate, and that genetic disruption of TLN4 reduces the efficiency of egress from host cells. Complementation of the knockout strain with the TLN4 coding sequence significantly restored egress competency, affirming that the phenotype of the Δtln4 parasite was due to the absence of TLN4. This work identifies TLN4 as the first metalloproteinase and the second microneme protein to function in T. gondii egress. The study also lays a foundation for future mechanistic studies defining the precise role of TLN4 in parasite exit from host cells.


The definitive article appears on the mSphere website at: https://journals.asm.org/doi/full/10.1128/msphere.00444-21.

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Copyright © 2021 Huynh et al.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.