Following intestinal invasion, the processes leading to systemic dissemination of the obligate intracellular protozoan Toxoplasma gondii remain poorly understood. Recently, tachyzoites representative of type I, II and III T. gondii populations were shown to differ with respect to their ability to transmigrate across cellular barriers. In this process of active parasite motility, type I strains exhibit a migratory capacity superior to those of the type II and type III strains. Data also suggest that tachyzoites rely on migrating dendritic cells (DC) as shuttling leukocytes to disseminate in tissue, e.g., the brain, where cysts develop. In this study, T. gondii tachyzoites sampled from the three populations were allowed to infect primary human blood DC, murine intestinal DC, or in vitro-derived DC and were compared for different phenotypic traits. All three archetypical lineages of T. gondii induced a hypermigratory phenotype in DC shortly after infection in vitro. Type II (and III) strains induced higher migratory frequency and intensity in DC than type I strains did. Additionally, adoptive transfer of infected DC favored the dissemination of type II and type III parasites over that of type I parasites in syngeneic mice. Type II parasites exhibited stronger intracellular association with both CD11c+ DC and other leukocytes in vivo than did type I parasites. Altogether, these findings suggest that infected DC contribute to parasite propagation in a strain type-specific manner and that the parasite genotype (type II) most frequently associated with toxoplasmosis in humans efficiently exploits DC migration for parasite dissemination
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