Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular parasite of the protozoan phylum Apicomplexa. The parasite has an exceptional capability to infect virtually all warm-blooded organisms. Infection, pathogenesis and inter-host transmission of T. gondii depends on its ability to switch lifecycle stages and exploit host resources. Little is known about metabolic rewiring when the parasite switches from acute to its chronic tissue cysts. We are studying the key signaling and metabolic determinants, which underlie this process. To explore the metabolic changes during stage conversion, a cyst-forming strain of T. gondii will be cultured, gene-manipulated and phenotyped.
Our planned assays include photo-induction of cAMP-mediated stage switching in optogenetic parasites followed by study of metabolic rewiring at transcriptional and metabolite levels. We also plan to generate the parasite mutants that are deficient in cAMP signaling and subsequent stage conversion. The student assistant will assist the PhD student (Laura Radtke) with parasite culture, cloning, immunofluorescence, gene manipulation and stage-conversion assays. He or she will benefit with training in numerous methods at a very early stage of carrier. If interested, please send in your CV along with a cover letter explaining your motivation.