Rajshekhar Gaji, PhD

Assistant Research Professor

Research Interest

I am interested in identifying and characterizing unique parasite factors involved in pathogenesis of protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii.


2012-2015   Post-doctoral Fellow
  Indiana University School of Medicine
Advisor: Dr. Gustavo Arrizabalaga
2006-2012 Post-doctoral Fellow
  University of Michigan
Advisor: Dr. Vern Carruthers
2001-2006 PhD
  University of Kentucky
Advisor: Dr. Dan Howe

My research is focused on understanding the process of Toxoplasma egress from host cells. Previous works from Dr. Arrizabalaga lab and others have shown that a calcium dependent kinase, TgCDPK3 plays an important role in the egress-signaling pathway but the mechanism of its function has not been completely understood. My work is aimed at identifying TgCDPK3 substrates and define unique factors involved in egress process with a long term goal to develop novel therapeutics against Toxoplasmosis.

  • Gaji RY, Johnson D, Wang M, Treeck M, Hudmon A and Arrizabalaga G. (2015). Phosphorylation of a myosin motor by TgCDPK3 facilitates rapid initiation of motility during Toxoplasma gondii egress.  PLoS Pathogens (In Press).
  • Treeck M, Sanders JL, Gaji RY, Lafavers KA, Child MA, Arrizabalaga G, Elias JE and Boothroyd JC. (2014). The calcium-dependent protein kinase 3 of Toxoplasma influences basal calcium levels and functions beyond egress as revealed by quantitative phosphoproteome analysis. PLoS Pathogens, 10(6): e1004197. 
  • Gaji RY, Checkley L, Reese ML, Ferdig MT and Arrizabalaga G. (2014). Expression of the essential kinase PfCDPK1 from Plasmodium falciparum in Toxoplasma gondii facilitates the discovery of novel antimalarial drugs. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 58 (2598-2607). 
  • Gaji RY, Huynh M and Carruthers VB. (2013) A Novel High Throughput Invasion Screen Identifies Host Actin Regulators Required for Efficient Cell Entry by Toxoplasma gondii. PLoS One, 8(5):e64693.
  • Sloves PJ, Delhaye S, Mouveaux T, Werkmeister E, Slomianny C, Hovasse A, Alayi, T, Callebaut I, Gaji RY, Schaeffer-Reiss C, Dorsselear AV, Carruthers VB and Tomavo S. (2012). A crucial role for Toxoplasma sortilin-like receptor in the biogenesis of apical secretory organelles and host infection. Cell Host and Microbe, 11, (515-527).
  • Gaji RY, Flammer HP and Carruthers VB. (2011). Forward targeting of Toxoplasma gondii proproteins to the micronemes involves conserved aliphatic amino acids. Traffic, 12 (840-853).          
  • Gaji RY, Behnke MS, White MW and Carruthers VB. (2011). Cell Cycle-dependent intercellular transmission of Toxoplasma gondii is accompanied by marked changes in parasite gene expression. Molecular Microbiology, 79 (192-204).
  • Gaji RY and Howe DK. (2009). The heptanucleotide motif GAGACGC is a key component of a cis-acting promoter element that is critical for SnSAG1 expression in Sarcocystis neurona. Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology, 166 (85-88).
  • Howe DK, Gaji RY, Marsh AE, Patil BA, Saville WJ, Lindsay DS, Dubey JP and Granstrom DE. (2007). Strains of sarcocystis neurona exihibit variation in their surface antigens, including the absence of the major surface antigen SnSAG1. International Journal for Parasitology, 38 (623-631).
  • Gaji RY, Zhang D, Vaishnava S, Striepen B. and Howe DK. (2006). Molecular genetic transfection of the coocidian parasite Sarcocystis neurona. Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology, 150 (1-9).
  • Zhang D, Gaji, RY and Howe DK. (2006). Identification and characterization of a nucleotide triphosphate hydrolase in Sarcocystis neurona. International Journal for Parasitology, 36 (1197-1204).
  • Vaishnava S, Morrison, DP, Gaji RY, Murray, JM, Entzeroth, R, Howe DK and Striepen B. (2005). Plastid segregation and cell division in the apicomplexan parasite Sarcocystis neurona. Journal of Cell Science, 118 (3397-407).
  • Howe DK, Gaji, RY, Mroz-Brarrett M, Gubbels MJ, Striepen B and Stamper S. (2005). Sarcocystis neurona merozoites express a family of immunogenic surface antigens that are orthologues of the Toxoplasma gondii surface antigens (SAGs) and SAG-related sequences. Infection and Immunity, 73 (1023- 33).

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology | 635 Barnhill Drive, MS A401 | Indianapolis, IN 46202