The Apicomplexan protozoan Toxoplasma gondii, the causative agent of toxoplasmosis, harbors an apicoplast, a plastid-like organelle with essential metabolic functions. Although the FASII fatty acid biosynthesis pathway located in the apicoplast is essential for parasite survival, the cellular effects of FASII disruption in T. gondii had not been examined in detail. Here, we combined light and electron microscopy techniques – including focused ion-beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) - to characterize the effect of FASII disruption in T. gondii, by treatment with the FASII inhibitor triclosan or by inducible knock down of the FASII component acyl carrier protein. Morphological analyses showed that FASII disruption prevented cytokinesis completion in T. gondii tachyzoites, leading to the formation of large masses of “tethered” daughter cells. FIB-SEM showed that tethered daughters had a mature basal complex, but a defect in new membrane addition between daughters resulted in incomplete pellicle formation. Addition of exogenous fatty acids to medium suppressed the formation of tethered daughter cells and supports the notion that FASII is essential to generate lipid substrates required for the final step of parasite division.
- Received December 21, 2015.
- Accepted July 19, 2016.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd