Open Access Open Badges Research article

Overproduction of Toxoplasma gondii cyclophilin-18 regulates host cell migration and enhances parasite dissemination in a CCR5-independent manner

Hany M Ibrahim13, Maki Nishimura1, Sachi Tanaka1, Walaa Awadin24, Hidefumi Furuoka2, Xuenan Xuan1 and Yoshifumi Nishikawa1*

Author Affiliations

1 National Research Center for Protozoan Diseases, Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Inada-cho, Obihiro, Hokkaido 080-8555, Japan

2 Division of Pathobiological Science, Department of Basic Veterinary Medicine, Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Obihiro 080-8555, Japan

3 Zoology Department, Faculty of Science, Minufiya University, Shebeen, El Kom, Egypt

4 Department of Pathology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Mansoura University, Mansoura, Egypt

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BMC Microbiology 2014, 14:76  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-14-76

Published: 25 March 2014



Toxoplasma gondii hijacks host cells to allow it to disseminate throughout a host animal; however, the migratory machinery involved in this process has not been well characterized. We examined the functional role of T. gondii cyclophilin 18 (TgCyp18) in host cell recruitment using recombinant parasites transfected with TgCyp18.


High levels of TgCyp18 enhanced IL-12 production in cysteine-cysteine chemokine receptor 5 (CCR5) knockout mice (CCR5−/−) that had been infected peritoneally with T. gondii. Recruitment of CD11b+ cells to the infection site was enhanced in a CCR5-independent manner. T. gondii spread to several organs, particularly the liver, in a TgCyp18-dependent and CCR5-independent manner. Additionally, CCL5 levels were upregulated in macrophages treated with recombinant protein TgCyp18 and in the peritoneal fluids of the infected CCR5−/− mice. Furthermore, the chemokines involved in macrophage migration, CCL2 and CXCL10, were upregulated in the livers of CCR5−/− mice infected with recombinant parasites that had been transfected with TgCyp18.


TgCyp18 may play a crucial role in macrophage migration, and in assisting with transport of T. gondii via CCR5-independent mechanisms. TgCyp18 may also play a role with CCL5 in the migration of macrophages to the site of infection, and with CCL2 and CXCL10 in the transport of T. gondii-infected cells to the liver.

Toxoplasma gondii; Cyclophilin 18; Cysteine-cysteine chemokine receptor 5; CD11b+ cells; Macrophage migration; Host cell recruitment