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UW-Madison Food Research Institute
Pictures of LK Laura J. Knoll

Core Executive Committee, Food Research Institute
Associate Professor, Dept. Medical Microbiology & Immunology, UW-Madison
Faculty: Food Pathogens and Toxins Cluster

3303 Microbial Sciences Building
1550 Linden Drive
(608) 262-3161

Research Interests
Molecular parasitology; Vaccine development for the intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii
Department Webpage
  • B.A. - 1989; Saint Olaf College; Northfield, MN
  • Ph.D. - 1994; Washington University School of Medicine; St. Louis, MO
  • Postdoctoral Research- Stanford University; Stanford, CA
Research Focus

A primary area of research in the Knoll laboratory centers on studying the host/pathogen interactions of the intracelluar parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Toxoplasma causes abnormal fetal neurological development and encephalitis in immunocompromised patients. Toxoplasma is a member of the coccidian family of parasites that include Plasmodium (causative agent of malaria) and Cryptosporidium (causative agent of water-borne outbreaks of diarrhea). We are using a library signature-tagged mutants and a chronic infection mouse model to isolate genes important for virulence and developmental regulation.

Current Research Projects
  • Combining Next Generation Sequencing with molecular genetics to create a toxoplasma vaccine.
  • Genome-Wide siRNA Screen to Identify Host Factors Necessary for Growth of the Parasite Toxoplasma gondii.
  • Toxoplasma gondii mutant highlights the importance of translational regulation in the apicoplast during animal infection.
Outreach / Selected Recent Presentations
  • “Foodborne Parasitic Risks and Infections.” Food Research Institute Annual Meeting, May 22, 2014, Madison, WI. 
  • “Combining Next Generation Sequencing with Molecular Genetics to Create a Toxoplasma Vaccine.” Food Research Institute Annual Meeting, May 22, 2013, Madison, WI. 
  • “Development of a Non-persistent Toxoplasma Vaccine and Broad-spectrum Immunotherapeutics.” Food Research Institute Annual Meeting, May 22, 2012, Madison, WI. 
  • “Understanding the Connection Between the Human Microbiota, Metabolism, and Obesity.” Food Research Institute Annual Meeting, May 18, 2010, Madison, WI. 
  • “Creation of an Animal Vaccine for Foodborne Parasites.” Food Research Institute Annual Meeting, April 30, 2009 , Madison, WI. 


recent publication Neal LM, Knoll LJ. 2014. Toxoplasma gondii profilin promotes recruitment of Ly6Chi CCR2+ inflammatory monocytes that can confer resistance to bacterial infection. PLoS Pathog. 10(6):e1004203 (PMC4055779)
Settles EW, Moser LA, Harris TH, Knoll LJ. 2014. Toxoplasma gondii upregulates interleukin-12 to prevent Plasmodium berghei-induced experimental cerebral malaria. Infect. Immun. 82(3):1343-53 (PMC3957979)
Tobin Magle C, Pittman KJ, Moser LA, Boldon KM, Knoll LJ. 2014. A toxoplasma patatin-like protein changes localization and alters the cytokine response during toxoplasmic encephalitis. Infect. Immun. 82(2):618-25 (PMC3911373)
Payne AJ, Neal LM, Knoll LJ. 2013. Fusidic acid is an effective treatment against Toxoplasma gondii and Listeria monocytogenes in vitro, but not in mice. Parasitol. Res. 112(11):3859-63 (PMC4096717)
Moser LA, Pollard AM, Knoll LJ. 2013. A genome-wide siRNA screen to identify host factors necessary for growth of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. PLoS ONE 8(6):e68129 (PMC3695992)
Hsiao CH, Luisa Hiller N, Haldar K, Knoll LJ. 2013. A HT/PEXEL motif in Toxoplasma dense granule proteins is a signal for protein cleavage but not export into the host cell. Traffic 14(5):519-31 (PMC3622808)
Tobin CM, Knoll LJ. 2012. A patatin-like protein protects Toxoplasma gondii from degradation in a nitric oxide-dependent manner. Infect. Immun. 80(1):55-61 (PMC3255658)
Payne TM, Payne AJ, Knoll LJ. 2011. A Toxoplasma gondii mutant highlights the importance of translational regulation in the apicoplast during animal infection. Mol. Microbiol. 82(5):1204-16
Milligan-Myhre KC, Rooney PJ, Knoll LJ. 2011. Examination of a virulence mutant uncovers the ribosome biogenesis regulatory protein of Toxoplasma gondii. J. Parasitol. 97(6):1173-7
Payne TM, Lund PJ, Knoll LJ. 2011. A transmembrane domain containing pellicle protein of Toxoplasma gondii enhances virulence and invasion after extracellular stress. Mol. Biochem. Parasitol. 179(2):107-10 (PMC3156857)
O'Brien KB, Schultz-Cherry S, Knoll LJ. 2011. Parasite-mediated upregulation of NK cell-derived gamma interferon protects against severe highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza virus infection. J. Virol. 85(17):8680-8 (PMC3165849)
Rooney PJ, Neal LM, Knoll LJ. 2011. Involvement of a Toxoplasma gondii chromatin remodeling complex ortholog in developmental regulation. PLoS ONE 6(5):e19570 (PMC3104990)
Rooney PJ, Ayong L, Tobin CM, Moreno SN, Knoll LJ. 2011. TgVTC2 is involved in polyphosphate accumulation in Toxoplasma gondii. Mol. Biochem. Parasitol. 176(2):121-6 (PMC3042031)
Craver MP, Rooney PJ, Knoll LJ. 2010. Isolation of Toxoplasma gondii development mutants identifies a potential proteophosphogylcan that enhances cyst wall formation. Mol. Biochem. Parasitol. 169(2):120-3 (PMC2791180)
Pollard AM, Knoll LJ, Mordue DG. 2009. The role of specific Toxoplasma gondii molecules in manipulation of innate immunity. Trends Parasitol. 25(11):491-4 (PMC2771455)
Pollard AM, Skariah S, Mordue DG, Knoll LJ. 2009. A transmembrane domain-containing surface protein from Toxoplasma gondii augments replication in activated immune cells and establishment of a chronic infection. Infect. Immun. 77(9):3731-9 (PMC2737990)
Frankel MB, Knoll LJ. 2009. The ins and outs of nuclear trafficking: unusual aspects in apicomplexan parasites. DNA Cell Biol. 28(6):277-84 (PMC2903460)
Frickel EM, Sahoo N, Hopp J, Gubbels MJ, Craver MP, Knoll LJ, Ploegh HL, Grotenbreg GM. 2008. Parasite stage-specific recognition of endogenous Toxoplasma gondii-derived CD8+ T cell epitopes. J. Infect. Dis. 198(11):1625-33
Frankel MB, Knoll LJ. 2008. Functional analysis of key nuclear trafficking components reveals an atypical Ran network required for parasite pathogenesis. Mol. Microbiol. 70(2):410-20 (PMC2577059)
Pollard AM, Onatolu KN, Hiller L, Haldar K, Knoll LJ. 2008. Highly polymorphic family of glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored surface antigens with evidence of developmental regulation in Toxoplasma gondii. Infect. Immun. 76(1):103-10 (PMC2223667)
Lavine MD, Knoll LJ, Rooney PJ, Arrizabalaga G. 2007. A Toxoplasma gondii mutant defective in responding to calcium fluxes shows reduced in vivo pathogenicity. Mol. Biochem. Parasitol. 155(2):113-22 (PMC2034501)
Van TT, Kim SK, Camps M, Boothroyd JC, Knoll LJ. 2007. The BSR4 protein is up-regulated in Toxoplasma gondii bradyzoites, however the dominant surface antigen recognised by the P36 monoclonal antibody is SRS9. Int. J. Parasitol. 37(8-9):877-85
Frankel MB, Mordue DG, Knoll LJ. 2007. Discovery of parasite virulence genes reveals a unique regulator of chromosome condensation 1 ortholog critical for efficient nuclear trafficking. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 104(24):10181-6 (PMC1891257)
Craver MP, Knoll LJ. 2007. Increased efficiency of homologous recombination in Toxoplasma gondii dense granule protein 3 demonstrates that GRA3 is not necessary in cell culture but does contribute to virulence. Mol. Biochem. Parasitol. 153(2):149-57
Mordue DG, Scott-Weathers CF, Tobin CM, Knoll LJ. 2007. A patatin-like protein protects Toxoplasma gondii from degradation in activated macrophages. Mol. Microbiol. 63(2):482-96 (PMC3392091)
Van Tam T, Rooney PJ, Knoll LJ. 2006. Nourseothricin acetyltransferease: a positive selectable marker for Toxoplasma gondii. J. Parasitol. 93(3):668-70