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Transmission of Toxoplasma gondii from Infected Dendritic Cells to Natural Killer Cells

Persson, Catrine M., Lambert, Henrik, Vutova, Polya P., Dellacasa-Lindberg, Isabel, Nederby, Joanna, Yagita, Hideo, Ljunggren, Hans-Gustaf, Grandien, Alf, Barragan, Antonio, Chambers, Benedict J.
Infection and immunity 2009 v.77 no.3 pp. 970-976
Toxoplasma gondii, dendritic cells, mice, natural killer cells, parasites
The obligate intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii can actively infect any nucleated cell type, including cells from the immune system. In the present study, we observed that a large number of natural killer (NK) cells were infected by T. gondii early after intraperitoneal inoculation of parasites into C57BL/6 mice. Interestingly, one mechanism of NK cell infection involved NK cell-mediated targeting of infected dendritic cells (DC). Perforin-dependent killing of infected DC led to active egress of infectious parasites that rapidly infected adjacent effector NK cells. Infected NK cells were not efficiently targeted by other NK cells. These results suggest that rapid transfer of T. gondii from infected DC to effector NK cells may contribute to the parasite's sequestration and shielding from immune recognition shortly after infection.