The world
of the infinitely small

Toxoplasma gondii HOOK-FTS-HIP Complex is Critical for Secretory Organelle Discharge during Motility, Invasion, and Egress

Members of the Apicomplexa phylum possess specialized secretory organelles that discharge, apically and in a timely regulated manner, key factors implicated in parasite motility, host cell invasion, egress and subversion of host cellular functions.

The mechanisms regulating trafficking and apical docking of these secretory organelles are only partially elucidated. Here, we characterized two conserved endosomal trafficking regulators known to promote vesicle transport and/or fusion, HOOK and Fused Toes (FTS), in the context of organelle discharge in Toxoplasma gondii. TgHOOK and TgFTS form a complex with a coccidian-specific partner, named HOOK interacting partner (HIP). TgHOOK displays an apically enriched vesicular pattern and concentrates at the parasite apical tip where it colocalizes with TgFTS and TgHIP. Functional investigations revealed that TgHOOK is dispensable but fitness conferring. The protein regulates the apical positioning and secretion of micronemes and contributes to egress, motility, host cell attachment, and invasion. Conditional depletion of TgFTS or TgHIP impacted on the same processes but led to more severe phenotypes. This study provides evidence of endosomal trafficking regulators involved in the apical exocytosis of micronemes and possibly as a consequence or directly on the discharge of the rhoptries.