Differential effects of three canonical Toxoplasma strains on gene expression in human neuroepithelial cells

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42 Scopus citations


Strain type is one of the key factors suspected to play a role in determining the outcome of Toxoplasma infection. In this study, we examined the transcriptional profile of human neuroepithelioma cells in response to representative strains of Toxoplasma by using microarray analysis to characterize the strain-specific host cell response. The study of neural cells is of interest in light of the ability of Toxoplasma to infect the brain and to establish persistent infection within the central nervous system. We found that the extents of the expression changes varied considerably among the three strains. Neuroepithelial cells infected with Toxoplasma type I exhibited the highest level of differential gene expression, whereas type II-infected cells had a substantially smaller number of genes which were differentially expressed. Cells infected with type III exhibited intermediate effects on gene expression. The three strains also differed in the individual genes and gene pathways which were altered following cellular infection. For example, gene ontology (GO) analysis indicated that type I infection largely affects genes related to the central nervous system, while type III infection largely alters genes which affect nucleotide metabolism; type II infection does not alter the expression of a clearly defined set of genes. Moreover, Ingenuity Pathways Analysis (IPA) suggests that the three lineages differ in the ability to manipulate their host; e.g., they employ different strategies to avoid, deflect, or subvert host defense mechanisms. These observed differences may explain some of the variation in the neurobiological effects of different strains of Toxoplasma on infected individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1363-1373
Number of pages11
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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