Characterisation of the Toxoplasma gondii tyrosine transporter and its phosphorylation by the calcium-dependent protein kinase 3

Journal Article: Molecular MicrobiologyYear Published: (2019) Volume Number: 111, Article Number: 1167-1181


Wallbank,Bethan A; Dominicus,Caia S; Broncel,Malgorzata; Legrave,Nathalie; MacRae,James I; Staines,Henry M; Treeck,Moritz

Toxoplasma gondii parasites rapidly exit their host cell when exposed to calcium ionophores. Calcium-dependent protein kinase 3 (TgCDPK3) was previously identified as a key mediator in this process, as TgCDPK3 knockout (∆cdpk3) parasites fail to egress in a timely manner. Phosphoproteomic analysis comparing WT with ∆cdpk3 parasites revealed changes in the TgCDPK3-dependent phosphoproteome that included proteins important for regulating motility, but also metabolic enzymes, indicating that TgCDPK3 controls processes beyond egress. Here we have investigated a predicted direct target of TgCDPK3, ApiAT5-3, a putative transporter of the major facilitator superfamily, and show that it is rapidly phosphorylated at serine 56 after induction of calcium signalling. Conditional knockout of apiAT5-3 results in transcriptional upregulation of most ribosomal subunits, but no alternative transporters, and subsequent parasite death. Mutating the S56 to a non-phosphorylatable alanine leads to a fitness cost, suggesting that phosphorylation of this residue is beneficial, albeit not essential, for tyrosine import. Using a combination of metabolomics and heterologous expression, we confirmed a primary role in tyrosine import for ApiAT5-3. However, no significant differences in tyrosine import could be detected in phosphorylation site mutants showing that if tyrosine transport is affected by S56 phosphorylation, its regulatory role is subtle.