Architecture and host interface of environmental chlamydiae revealed by electron cryotomography.
ABSTRACT: Chlamydiae comprise important pathogenic and symbiotic bacteria that alternate between morphologically and physiologically different life stages during their developmental cycle. Using electron cryotomography, we characterize the ultrastructure of the developmental stages of three environmental chlamydiae: Parachlamydia acanthamoebae, Protochlamydia amoebophila and Simkania negevensis. We show that chemical fixation and dehydration alter the cell shape of Parachlamydia and that the crescent body is not a developmental stage, but an artefact of conventional electron microscopy. We further reveal type III secretion systems of environmental chlamydiae at macromolecular resolution and find support for a chlamydial needle-tip protein. Imaging bacteria inside their host cells by cryotomography for the first time, we observe marked differences in inclusion morphology and development as well as host organelle recruitment between the three chlamydial organisms, with Simkania inclusions being tightly enveloped by the host endoplasmic reticulum. The study demonstrates the power of electron cryotomography to reveal structural details of bacteria-host interactions that are not accessible using traditional methods.
Project description:Chlamydiae are evolutionarily well-separated bacteria that live exclusively within eukaryotic host cells. They include important human pathogens such as Chlamydia trachomatis as well as symbionts of protozoa. As these bacteria are experimentally challenging and genetically intractable, our knowledge about them is still limited. In this study, we obtained the genome sequences of Simkania negevensis Z, Waddlia chondrophila 2032/99, and Parachlamydia acanthamoebae UV-7. This enabled us to perform the first comprehensive comparative and phylogenomic analysis of representative members of four major families of the Chlamydiae, including the Chlamydiaceae. We identified a surprisingly large core gene set present in all genomes and a high number of diverse accessory genes in those Chlamydiae that do not primarily infect humans or animals, including a chemosensory system in P. acanthamoebae and a type IV secretion system. In S. negevensis, the type IV secretion system is encoded on a large conjugative plasmid (pSn, 132 kb). Phylogenetic analyses suggested that a plasmid similar to the S. negevensis plasmid was originally acquired by the last common ancestor of all four families and that it was subsequently reduced, integrated into the chromosome, or lost during diversification, ultimately giving rise to the extant virulence-associated plasmid of pathogenic chlamydiae. Other virulence factors, including a type III secretion system, are conserved among the Chlamydiae to variable degrees and together with differences in the composition of the cell wall reflect adaptation to different host cells including convergent evolution among the four chlamydial families. Phylogenomic analysis focusing on chlamydial proteins with homology to plant proteins provided evidence for the acquisition of 53 chlamydial genes by a plant progenitor, lending further support for the hypothesis of an early interaction between a chlamydial ancestor and the primary photosynthetic eukaryote.
Project description:The fundamental role of programmed cell death in host defense is highlighted by the multitude of anti-apoptotic strategies evolved by various microbes, including the well-known obligate intracellular bacterial pathogens Chlamydia trachomatis and Chlamydia (Chlamydophila) pneumoniae. As inhibition of apoptosis is assumed to be essential for a successful infection of humans by these chlamydiae, we analyzed the anti-apoptotic capacity of close relatives that occur as symbionts of amoebae and might represent emerging pathogens. While Simkania negevensis was able to efficiently replicate within insect cells, which served as model for metazoan-derived host cells, the Parachlamydiaceae (Parachlamydia acanthamoebae and Protochlamydia amoebophila) displayed limited intracellular growth, yet these bacteria induced typical features of apoptotic cell death, including formation of apoptotic bodies, nuclear condensation, internucleosomal DNA fragmentation, and effector caspase activity. Induction of apoptosis was dependent on bacterial activity, but not bacterial de novo protein synthesis, and was detectable already at very early stages of infection. Experimental inhibition of host cell death greatly enhanced parachlamydial replication, suggesting that lack of potent anti-apoptotic activities in Parachlamydiaceae may represent an important factor compromising their ability to successfully infect non-protozoan hosts. These findings highlight the importance of the evolution of anti-apoptotic traits for the success of chlamydiae as pathogens of humans and animals.
Project description:ATP/ADP translocases catalyze the highly specific transport of ATP across a membrane in an exchange mode with ADP. Such unique transport proteins are employed by plant plastids and have among the prokaryotes so far only been identified in few obligate intracellular bacteria belonging to the Chlamydiales and the Rickettsiales. In this study, 12 phylogenetically diverse bacterial endosymbionts of free-living amoebae and paramecia were screened for the presence of genes encoding ATP/ADP transport proteins. The occurrence of ATP/ADP translocase genes was found to be restricted to endosymbionts related to rickettsiae and chlamydiae. We showed that the ATP/ADP transport protein of the Parachlamydia-related endosymbiont of Acanthamoeba sp. strain UWE25, a recently identified relative of the important human pathogens Chlamydia trachomatis and Chlamydophila pneumoniae, is functional when expressed in the heterologous host Escherichia coli and demonstrated the presence of transcripts during the chlamydial developmental cycle. These findings indicate that the interaction between Parachlamydia-related endosymbionts and their amoeba hosts concerns energy parasitism similar to the interaction between pathogenic chlamydiae and their human host cells. Phylogenetic analysis of all known ATP/ADP translocases indicated that the genes encoding ATP/ADP translocases originated from a chlamydial ancestor and were, after an ancient gene duplication, transferred horizontally to rickettsiae and plants.
Project description:Chlamydiae are obligate intracellular bacteria comprising well-known human pathogens and ubiquitous symbionts of protists, which are characterized by a unique developmental cycle. Here we comprehensively analyzed gene expression dynamics of Protochlamydia amoebophila during infection of its Acanthamoeba host by RNA sequencing. This revealed a highly dynamic transcriptional landscape, where major transcriptional shifts are conserved among chlamydial symbionts and pathogens. Our data served to propose a time-resolved model for type III protein secretion during the developmental cycle, and we provide evidence for a biphasic metabolism of P. amoebophila during infection, which involves energy parasitism and amino acids as carbon source during initial stages and a post-replicative switch to endogenous glucose-based ATP production. This fits well with major transcriptional changes in the amoeba host, where upregulation of complex sugar breakdown precedes the P. amoebophila metabolic switch. The biphasic chlamydial metabolism represents a unique adaptation to exploit eukaryotic host cells, which likely contributed to the evolutionary success of this group of microbes. Overall design: RNA-seq of endosymbionts of amoebae at 3 different time points during infection (2, 48, 96 hours post infection) and the extracellular stage; in triplicates; each of the 12 samples was sequenced on a single lane using an Illumina HiSeq2000 system
Project description:BACKGROUND: Chlamydiae are obligate intracellular bacteria comprising some of the most important bacterial pathogens of animals and humans. Although chlamydial outer membrane proteins play a key role for attachment to and entry into host cells, only few have been described so far. We developed a comprehensive, multiphasic in silico approach, including the calculation of clusters of orthologues, to predict outer membrane proteins using conservative criteria. We tested this approach using Escherichia coli (positive control) and Bacillus subtilis (negative control), and applied it to five chlamydial species; Chlamydia trachomatis, Chlamydia muridarum, Chlamydia (a.k.a. Chlamydophila) pneumoniae, Chlamydia (a.k.a. Chlamydophila) caviae, and Protochlamydia amoebophila. RESULTS: In total, 312 chlamydial outer membrane proteins and lipoproteins in 88 orthologous clusters were identified, including 238 proteins not previously recognized to be located in the outer membrane. Analysis of their taxonomic distribution revealed an evolutionary conservation among Chlamydiae, Verrucomicrobia, Lentisphaerae and Planctomycetes as well as lifestyle-dependent conservation of the chlamydial outer membrane protein composition. CONCLUSION: This analysis suggested a correlation between the outer membrane protein composition and the host range of chlamydiae and revealed a common set of outer membrane proteins shared by these intracellular bacteria. The collection of predicted chlamydial outer membrane proteins is available at the online database pCOMP http://www.microbial-ecology.net/pcomp and might provide future guidance in the quest for anti-chlamydial vaccines.
Project description:Ancient chlamydiae diverged into pathogenic and environmental chlamydiae 0.7-1.4 billion years ago. However, how pathogenic chlamydiae adapted to mammalian cells that provide a stable niche at approximately 37 °C, remains unknown, although environmental chlamydiae have evolved as endosymbionts of lower eukaryotes in harsh niches of relatively low temperatures. Hence, we assessed whether an environmental chlamydia, Parachlamydia Bn9, could grow in human HEp-2 cells at a low culture temperature of 30 °C. The assessment of inclusion formation by quantitative RT-PCR revealed that the numbers of bacterial inclusion bodies and the transcription level of 16SrRNA significantly increased after culture at 30 °C compared to at 37 °C. Confocal microscopy showed that the bacteria were located close to HEp-2 nuclei and were actively replicative. Transmission electron microscopy also revealed replicating bacteria consisting of reticular bodies, but with a few elementary bodies. Cytochalasin D and rifampicin inhibited inclusion formation. Lactacystin slightly inhibited bacterial inclusion formation. KEGG analysis using a draft genome sequence of the bacteria revealed that it possesses metabolic pathways almost identical to those of pathogenic chlamydia. Interestingly, comparative genomic analysis with pathogenic chlamydia revealed that the Parachlamydia similarly possess the genes encoding Type III secretion system, but lacking genes encoding inclusion membrane proteins (IncA to G) required for inclusion maturation. Taken together, we conclude that ancient chlamydiae had the potential to grow in human cells, but overcoming the thermal gap was a critical event for chlamydial adaptation to human cells.
Project description:The Chlamydiae constitute an evolutionary well separated group of intracellular bacteria comprising important pathogens of humans as well as symbionts of protozoa. The amoeba symbiont Protochlamydia amoebophila lacks a homologue of the most abundant outer membrane protein of the Chlamydiaceae, the major outer membrane protein MOMP, highlighting a major difference between environmental chlamydiae and their pathogenic counterparts. We recently identified a novel family of putative porins encoded in the genome of P. amoebophila by in silico analysis. Two of these Protochlamydiaouter membrane proteins, PomS (pc1489) and PomT (pc1077), are highly abundant in outer membrane preparations of this organism. Here we show that all four members of this putative porin family are toxic when expressed in the heterologous host Escherichia coli. Immunofluorescence analysis using antibodies against heterologously expressed PomT and PomS purified directly from elementary bodies, respectively, demonstrated the location of both proteins in the outer membrane of P. amoebophila. The location of the most abundant protein PomS was further confirmed by immuno-transmission electron microscopy. We could show that pomS is transcribed, and the corresponding protein is present in the outer membrane throughout the complete developmental cycle, suggesting an essential role for P. amoebophila. Lipid bilayer measurements demonstrated that PomS functions as a porin with anion-selectivity and a pore size similar to the Chlamydiaceae MOMP. Taken together, our results suggest that PomS, possibly in concert with PomT and other members of this porin family, is the functional equivalent of MOMP in P. amoebophila. This work contributes to our understanding of the adaptations of symbiotic and pathogenic chlamydiae to their different eukaryotic hosts.
Project description:The Chlamydiae are a highly successful group of obligate intracellular bacteria, whose members are remarkably diverse, ranging from major pathogens of humans and animals to symbionts of ubiquitous protozoa. While their infective developmental stage, the elementary body (EB), has long been accepted to be completely metabolically inert, it has recently been shown to sustain some activities, including uptake of amino acids and protein biosynthesis. In the current study, we performed an in-depth characterization of the metabolic capabilities of EBs of the amoeba symbiont Protochlamydia amoebophila. A combined metabolomics approach, including fluorescence microscopy-based assays, isotope-ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS), ion cyclotron resonance Fourier transform mass spectrometry (ICR/FT-MS), and ultra-performance liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS) was conducted, with a particular focus on the central carbon metabolism. In addition, the effect of nutrient deprivation on chlamydial infectivity was analyzed. Our investigations revealed that host-free P. amoebophila EBs maintain respiratory activity and metabolize D-glucose, including substrate uptake as well as host-free synthesis of labeled metabolites and release of labeled CO2 from (13)C-labeled D-glucose. The pentose phosphate pathway was identified as major route of D-glucose catabolism and host-independent activity of the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle was observed. Our data strongly suggest anabolic reactions in P. amoebophila EBs and demonstrate that under the applied conditions D-glucose availability is essential to sustain metabolic activity. Replacement of this substrate by L-glucose, a non-metabolizable sugar, led to a rapid decline in the number of infectious particles. Likewise, infectivity of Chlamydia trachomatis, a major human pathogen, also declined more rapidly in the absence of nutrients. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that D-glucose is utilized by P. amoebophila EBs and provide evidence that metabolic activity in the extracellular stage of chlamydiae is of major biological relevance as it is a critical factor affecting maintenance of infectivity.
Project description:Novel chlamydiae are newly recognized members of the phylum Chlamydiales that are only distantly related to the classic Chlamydiaceae, i.e., Chlamydia and Chlamydophila species. They also exhibit an obligate biphasic intracellular life cycle within eukaryote host cells. Some of these new chlamydiae are currently considered potential emerging human and/or animal pathogens. Parachlamydia acanthamoebae and Simkania negevensis are both emerging respiratory human pathogens, Waddlia chondrophila could be a novel abortigenic bovine agent, and Piscichlamydia salmonis has recently been identified as an agent of the gill epitheliocystis in the Atlantic salmon. Fritschea spp. and Rhabdochlamydia spp. seem to be confined to arthropods, but some evidence for human exposure exists. In this review, we first summarize the data supporting a pathogenic potential of the novel chlamydiae for humans and other vertebrates and the interactions that most of these chlamydiae have with free-living amoebae. We then review the diagnostic approaches to infections potentially due to the novel chlamydiae, especially focusing on the currently available PCR-based protocols, mammalian cell culture, the amoebal coculture system, and serology.
Project description:Chlamydiae are important pathogens and symbionts with unique cell biological features. They lack the cell-division protein FtsZ, and the existence of peptidoglycan (PG) in their cell wall has been highly controversial. FtsZ and PG together function in orchestrating cell division and maintaining cell shape in almost all other bacteria. Using electron cryotomography, mass spectrometry and fluorescent labelling dyes, here we show that some environmental chlamydiae have cell wall sacculi consisting of a novel PG type. Treatment with fosfomycin (a PG synthesis inhibitor) leads to lower infection rates and aberrant cell shapes, suggesting that PG synthesis is crucial for the chlamydial life cycle. Our findings demonstrate for the first time the presence of PG in a member of the Chlamydiae. They also present a unique example of a bacterium with a PG sacculus but without FtsZ, challenging the current hypothesis that it is the absence of a cell wall that renders FtsZ non-essential.