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Title: Characterisation of the Acto-MyoA motor complex in Toxoplasma gondii
Author: Egarter, Saskia M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5347 4453
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2014
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In apicomplexan parasites, the machinery required for gliding motility is located between the plasma membrane and the Inner Membrane Complex (IMC). This type of motility depends on the regulated polymerisation and depolymerisation of actin and a multi-subunit complex, known as the Myosin A motor complex. This complex consists of the myosin heavy chain A (MyoA), the myosin light chain 1 (MLC1), the essential light chain 1 (ELC1) and three gliding-associated proteins (GAP40, GAP45 and GAP50). Gliding motility is thought to be essential for host cell egress and linked to active, parasite driven penetration of the host cell. Many components of this complex are extensively studied using either the ddFKBP system or the tetracycline-inducible knockdown system (Tet-system). Strikingly, while depletion of myoA has no impact on IMC formation, overexpression of the tail domain of MyoA results in a severe IMC biogenesis phenotype. In order to investigate this issue, conditional knockout (KO) mutants of the interacting partners of MyoA-tail were generated using the conditional site-specific DiCre recombination system. Indeed, GAP40 and GAP50 were identified as being essential for parasite replication and having a crucial role during IMC biogenesis. This is the first evidence showing that components of the MyoA motor complex fulfil essential functions during IMC formation and thus are not exclusively important for gliding motility dependant processes. Several components of the MyoA motor complex were characterised using the Tet-system and showed a complete block in gliding motility, but not in host cell invasion. While it is possible that leaky expression of the gene in the knockdown mutants is responsible for this uncoupling of gliding motility and invasion, it remains feasible that different mechanisms are involved in these two processes. In order to shed light on this issue, conditional KOs for the Acto-MyoA motor complex were generated in this study and their functions during gliding dependent processes thoroughly analysed. Intriguingly, while depletion of individual components of this complex caused a severe block in host cell egress, gliding motility and host cell penetration were decreased, but not blocked, demonstrating an important, but not essential role of the Acto-MyoA motor complex during these processes. Altogether, this study raises questions of our current view of what drives gliding motility and invasion and supports the argument for critical revision of the linear motor model.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Q Science (General)