header image

Jon P. Boyle, PhD

Dr. Jon Boyle


Fax: 412-624-4759
102A Life Sciences Annex
Fifth and Ruskin Avenues


PhD, University of Wisconsin, Madison

MS, University of Wisconsin, Madison

BA, University of Montana

Academic Affiliation(s)

Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences

Member, Molecular Virology and Microbiology Graduate Program


In my lab we study the human pathogen Toxoplasma gondii.  Toxoplasma is an obligate intracellular parasite in the same phylum as other human and animal pathogens, including the causative agents of malaria and cryptosporidiosis.  It is estimated that over a third of the world population has been infected with this parasite, and it can cause severe and lethal disease in the immunocompromised and in the developing fetus.  To date there is no cure for this parasite. 

We are primarily interested in identifying Toxoplasma virulence genes and characterizing their mechanism of action.  To do this we use molecular, genetic, and functional/comparative genomic approaches.  Specifically, we are currently using comparative genomics to identify genes that are unique to Toxoplasma compared to its avirulent relatives, and then testing them in both cell culture and in vivo models for their role in parasite growth and virulence.  This work is facilitated by the fact that Toxoplasma is very amenable to genetic manipulation and the genomes for multiple strains of the parasite have been fully sequenced.  We are also embarking on our own sequencing projects of novel Toxoplasma strains and closely-related species to facilitate these comparative analyses.  Students working in the lab are exposed to a wide variety of techniques, including cell culture, microarray and RNAseq analyses, next generation whole-genome sequencing, genetic manipulation of parasites and host cells, and in vivo bioluminescence imaging. 

For more information on Dr. Boyle's lab, please visit his lab website.

Lab Personnel

Germine Alfonse, Undergraduate Researcher

Jeff Danielson, Undergraduate Reaseacher

Elisabeth D. English, Graduate Student

Jon Harper, Undergraduate Researcher

Greg Wier, Graduate Student

Areas of Interest

Host-pathogen interactions; evolution; host range expansion; gene duplication and expansion


Pernas L, Adomako-Ankomah Y, Shastri A. J, Ewald S. E, Treeck M, Boyle J. P, and Boothroyd J. C. Toxoplasma effector MAF1 mediates recruitment of host mitochondria and impacts the host response. PLoS Biol. 12(4): e1001845. |  View Abstract

Adomako-Ankomah Y, Wier G. M, Borges A. L, Wand H. E, and Boyle J. P. Differential locus expansion distinguishes Toxoplasmatinae species and closely related strains of Toxoplasma gondii. MBio. 5(1): e01003-13. |  View Abstract

Feliu V, Vasseur V, Grover H. S, Chu H. H, Brown M. J, Wang J, Boyle J. P, Robey E. A, Shastri N, and Blanchard N. Location of the CD8 T cell epitope within the antigenic precursor determines immunogenicity and protection against the Toxoplasma gondii parasite. PLoS Pathog. 9(6): e1003449 |  View Abstract

Walzer K. A, Adomako-Ankomah Y, Dam R. A, Herrmann D. C, Schares G, Dubey J. P, and Boyle J. P. Hammondia hammondi, an avirulent relative of Toxoplasma gondii, has functional orthologs of known T. gondii virulence genes. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 110(8): 7449-7451. |  View Abstract

Kamau E. T, Srinivasan A. R, Brown M. J, Fair M. G, Caraher E. J, and Boyle J. P. A focused small-molecule screen identifies 14 compounds with distinct effects on Toxoplasma gondii. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 56(11): 5581-5590. |  View Abstract

Kamau E, Meehan T, Lavine M. D, Arrizabalaga G, Mustata Wilson G, and Boyle J. A novel benzodioxole-containing inhibitor of Toxoplasma gondii growth alters the parasite cell cycle. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 55(12): 5438-5451. |  View Abstract

Reese M. L, Zeiner G. M, Saeij J. P, Boothroyd J. C, and Boyle J. P. Polymorphic family of injected pseudokinases is paramount in Toxoplasma virulence. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 108(23): 9625-9630. |  View Abstract