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People, Parasites, and PlowsharesLearning From Our Body's Most Terrifying Invaders$
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Dickson Despommier

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231161947

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231161947.001.0001

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A Parasite for All Seasons

A Parasite for All Seasons

Toxoplasma gondii

(p.75) 4 A Parasite for All Seasons
People, Parasites, and Plowshares

Dickson D. Despommier

William C. Campbell

Columbia University Press

This chapter focuses on the nature of Toxoplasma gondii—an obligate, intracellular, parasitic protozoan that causes the disease toxoplasmosis. This parasite is mostly acquired by eating fecally contaminated water and food that contains their eggs or larvae. Once inside the body, it quickly inhabits a cell by secreting apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1) that facilitates the interaction of the parasite's outer membrane with the host cell membrane, resulting in the formation of a tight junction between the two. The immune system responds to the infection by ramping up the production of interleukin, a messenger peptide that would signal other components of immune system to fight the foreign body. However, the parasite would modify the infected cell membrane to form an outer wall of the tissue cyst to serve as a barrier.

Keywords:   Toxoplasma gondii, apical membrane antigen, interleukin, parasite, toxoplasmosis, parasitic infection

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