Several treatment failures have been reported for the treatment of toxoplasmic encephalitis, chorioretinitis, and congenital toxoplasmosis. Recently we found three Toxoplasma gondii strains naturally resistant to sulfadiazine and we developed in vitro two sulfadiazine resistant strains, RH-R(SDZ) and ME-49-R(SDZ), by gradual pressure. In Plasmodium, common mechanisms of drug resistance involve, among others, mutations and/or amplification within genes encoding the therapeutic targets dhps and dhfr and/or the ABC transporter genes family. To identify genotypic and/or phenotypic markers of resistance in T. gondii, we sequenced and analyzed the expression levels of therapeutic targets dhps and dhfr, three ABC genes, two Pgp, TgABC.B1 and TgABC.B2, and one MRP, TgABC.C1, on sensitive strains compared to sulfadiazine resistant strains. Neither polymorphism nor overexpression was identified. Contrary to Plasmodium, in which mutations and/or overexpression within gene targets and ABC transporters are involved in antimalarial resistance, T. gondii sulfadiazine resistance is not related to these toxoplasmic genes studied.
Monitoring of Toxoplasma infection in animals destined for human consumption is a great challenge for human toxoplasmosis prevention. This study aimed to compare results obtained from a naturally infected population of sheep using different tests and targeting an original matrix: meat samples and muscle fluids collected at the slaughterhouse. A commercial ELISA test was performed on diaphragm fluids from 419 ovine carcasses collected at the slaughterhouse. A MAT (modified agglutination test) was performed on heart fluids obtained from the same animals. In addition, all hearts were bioassayed in mice. Serological test agreement, the relative sensitivity of ELISA MAT and mouse bioassay as well as a correlation between titres and parasite isolation probability were statistically evaluated. The overall agreement (kappa coefficient=0.64) of ELISA on diaphragm fluids and MAT on heart fluids is substantial and subsequently both tests can be used for epidemiological studies. Relative sensitivity was higher for MAT performed on cardiac fluids (90%) than ELISA on diaphragm fluid (61%). For both serological tests, relative sensitivity is lower in lambs younger than 12 months. Relative sensitivity of mouse inoculation was 42%. A significant correlation was obtained between increasing MAT titres and probability to isolate live parasite from the heart. When the fluid titre was higher than 1:16, parasites were isolated in 65% of cases. When it was lower, isolation failed in 95% of the cases. According to our results, cardiac fluids appear to be a relevant matrix for toxoplasmosis survey in meat.
Consumption of sheep meat presents a risk of human contamination by Toxoplasma gondii. A nationwide study was conducted in France to evaluate the prevalence of Toxoplasma in fresh ovine meat. A sampling procedure was established to guarantee the representativity of consumption. As is the case for meat consumed, half of the samples were from France and half were imported from other countries. Animals were selected according to their age, as lamb (<12months) represents 90% of the meat consumed. Available data for French samples allowed the selection of 16 districts distributed in seven areas according to their density of production. Diaphragms and hearts from 433 sheep were collected. Diaphragms were collected from 398 imported carcasses. Fluids from hearts and diaphragms were tested serologically. All hearts were bioassayed in mice and parasite isolates were genotyped using PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism and microsatellite markers. Prevalence estimates were calculated, taking into account uneven distribution of production and age. For French meat, the effect of area, age and their interactions was evaluated. The overall estimate of Toxoplasma seroprevalence was 17.7% (11.6-31.5%) for lambs and 89% (73.5-100%) for adults (P<0.0001). No significant difference was observed between imported and French meat. In France, seroprevalence in lambs showed an increasing North-western to Southern gradient. The proportion of French carcasses carrying live parasites according to bioassay results was estimated at 5.4% (3-7.5%) (45 genotype II; one genotype III). This study offers an accurate drawing of the toxoplasmosis pattern amongst sheep consumed in France and a model for a zoonosis hazard control survey.
The ATP-binding cassette (ABC) superfamily is one of the largest protein families with representatives in all kingdoms of life. Members of this superfamily are involved in a wide variety of transport processes with substrates ranging from small ions to relatively large polypeptides and polysaccharides, but also in cellular processes such as DNA repair, translation or regulation of gene expression. For many years, the role of ABC proteins was mainly investigated for their implication in drug resistance. However, recent studies focused rather on their physiological functions for the parasite. In this review, we present an overview of ABC proteins in major protozoan parasites including Leishmania, Trypanosoma, Plasmodium, Toxoplasma, Cryptosporidium and Entamoeba species. We will also discuss the role of characterized ABC transporters in the biology of the parasite and in drug resistance.
ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters represent an important family of membrane proteins involved in drug resistance and other biological activities. The present study reports on the characterization of a P-glycoprotein (Pgp), TgABC.B1, in the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii. The protein encoded by the TgABC.B1 gene displays the typical (TMD-NBD)2 structural organization of the "full" ABC transporter and shows significant identity and similarity with two apicomplexan Pgps; Pgh1 in Plasmodium falciparum and CpABC3 in Cryptosporidium parvum. The TgABC.B1 gene is a single copy gene transcribed into a full-length mRNA of 4.3kb and expressed as a protein of approximately 150kDa, which cellular localization revealed a membrane-associated labelling in tachyzoites. The TgABC.B1 gene is constitutively expressed in the three major T. gondii genotypes but demonstrated a higher expression in virulent type I, at both transcriptional and translational levels. Further characterization of this Pgp-like protein will increase our knowledge of the membrane transport system in this parasite and could result in the identification of a new therapeutic target in Toxoplasma.
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