Regulatory (pan-)genome of an obligate intracellular pathogen in the PVC superphylum.
ABSTRACT: Like other obligate intracellular bacteria, the Chlamydiae feature a compact regulatory genome that remains uncharted owing to poor genetic tractability. Exploiting the reduced number of transcription factors (TFs) encoded in the chlamydial (pan-)genome as a model for TF control supporting the intracellular lifestyle, we determined the conserved landscape of TF specificities by ChIP-Seq (chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing) in the chlamydial pathogen Waddlia chondrophila. Among 10 conserved TFs, Euo emerged as a master TF targeting >100 promoters through conserved residues in a DNA excisionase-like winged helix-turn-helix-like (wHTH) fold. Minimal target (Euo) boxes were found in conserved developmentally-regulated genes governing vertical genome transmission (cytokinesis and DNA replication) and genome plasticity (transposases). Our ChIP-Seq analysis with intracellular bacteria not only reveals that global TF regulation is maintained in the reduced regulatory genomes of Chlamydiae, but also predicts that master TFs interpret genomic information in the obligate intracellular α-proteobacteria, including the rickettsiae, from which modern day mitochondria evolved.
Project description:Both prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms take deterministic decisions to reprogram cell fates. A macroscopic manifestation of such an event is the remodelling of the cells’ morphology and it typically is governed at the molecular scale by massive reorganization of the cellular transcriptome. With the regulation at the level of transcription initiation representing the most common form for such developmental reprogramming, cells typically rely on one or several master regulators to coordinate the the activity of hundreds of genes simultaneously by directly binding to their promoters. Despite the apparent simplicity of prokaryotes and their reduced genome size compared to that of their eukaryotic counterparts, free-living bacteria typically encode hundreds of transcription factors (TFs) in their genomes that could act as master TFs. By contrast, obligate intracellular bacteria such as Chlamydiae have a drastically reduced genome due to their intimate association with the host and thus a smaller number of TF genes. The genomes of members of the Chlamydiaceae family, which include the well-known bacterial pathogens Chlamydia trachomatis and Chlamydia pneumoniae, are only 1-1.2 Mbp. By contrast, members of the environmental Chlamydiae Waddlia chondrophila and Parachlamydia acanthamoebae have a 2-fold and 3-fold larger genome, respectively, likely allowing for an expansion of the host range while still retaining their host dependence and parasitic life style. Moreover, they all exhibit a characteristic chlamydial developmental cycle via two functionally specialized morphotypes, the infectious non-dividing elementary bodies (EBs) and the non-infectious dividing reticulate bodies (RBs). This developmental cycle is usually divided in three stages: the early stage during which EBs enter host cells and differentiate into RBs; the mid-stage where RBs proliferate inside a vacuole called inclusion and the late stage where RBs differentiate back into EBs and are released after exocytosis or cell lysis. Chlamydial genes are thus classified into three different temporal classes (early, mid and late expressed genes), likely reflecting the need of these transcripts in each of the three developmental stages. W. chondrophila, an emerging pathogen implicated in abortion in bovine and miscarriage in humans, encodes less than 20 TFs, 10 of which are conserved among the Chlamydiae. In light of this low TF multiplicity in the chlamydial pan-genome along with the common developmental cycle and parasitic life style, we aimed to define the regulatory pan-genome of each these conserved TFs to identify the elusive chlamydial master regulator and to characterize underling specificity for its target promoters using chromatin-immunoprecipitation followed by deep-sequencing (ChIP-Seq) of chlamydial cells growing inside the host. The immunochemistry of ChIP-Seq has the advantage of minimizing the contaminating nucleic acids compared to chlamydial transcriptome studies, it has the added benefit of providing the first unambiguous glimpse into the regulatory landscape of a bacterium inside host, offering a solid framework in understanding the stochastic and/or deterministic switches that bacteria rely on during infections. Examination of the regulatory network of an intracellular pathogen
Project description:The Chlamydiae phylum exclusively encompasses bacteria sharing a similar obligate intracellular life cycle. Existing 16S rDNA data support a high diversity within the phylum, however genomic data remain scarce owing to the difficulty in isolating strains using culture systems with eukaryotic cells. Yet, Chlamydiae genome data extracted from large scale metagenomic studies might help fill this gap. This work compares 33 cultured and 27 environmental, uncultured chlamydial genomes, in order to clarify the phylogenetic relatedness of the new chlamydial clades and to investigate the genetic diversity of the Chlamydiae phylum. The analysis of published chlamydial genomes from metagenomics bins and single cell sequencing allowed the identification of seven new deeply branching chlamydial clades sharing genetic hallmarks of parasitic Chlamydiae. Comparative genomics suggests important biological differences between those clades, including loss of many proteins involved in cell division in the genus Similichlamydia, and loss of respiratory chain and tricarboxylic acid cycle in several species. Comparative analyses of chlamydial genomes with two proteobacterial orders, the Rhizobiales and the Rickettsiales showed that genomes of different Rhizobiales families are much more similar than genomes of different Rickettsiales families. On the other hand, the chlamydial 16S rRNAs exhibit a higher sequence conservation than their Rickettsiales counterparts, while chlamydial proteins exhibit increased sequence divergence. Studying the diversity and genome plasticity of the entire Chlamydiae phylum is of major interest to better understand the emergence and evolution of this ubiquitous and ancient clade of obligate intracellular bacteria.
Project description:A critical step in intracellular Chlamydia infection is the production of infectious progeny through the expression of late genes. This differentiation step involves conversion from a reticulate body (RB), which is the replicating form of the bacterium, into an elementary body (EB), which is the developmental form that spreads the infection to a new host cell. EUO is an important chlamydial transcription factor that controls the expression of late genes, but the mechanisms that regulate EUO are not known. We report that a plasmid-encoded protein, Pgp4, enhanced the repressor activity of EUO. Pgp4 did not function as a transcription factor because it did not bind or directly modulate transcription of its target promoters. Instead, Pgp4 increased the ability of EUO to bind and repress EUO-regulated promoters in vitro and physically interacted with EUO in pulldown assays with recombinant proteins. We detected earlier onset of EUO-dependent late gene expression by immunofluorescence microscopy in Pgp4-deficient C. trachomatis and C. muridarum strains. In addition, the absence of Pgp4 led to earlier onset of RB-to-EB conversion in C. muridarum These data support a role for Pgp4 as a negative regulator of chlamydial transcription that delays late gene expression. Our studies revealed that Pgp4 also has an EUO-independent function as a positive regulator of chlamydial transcription.IMPORTANCE Chlamydia trachomatis is an important human pathogen that causes more than 150 million active cases of genital and eye infection in the world. This obligate intracellular bacterium produces infectious progeny within an infected human cell through the expression of late chlamydial genes. We showed that the ability of a key chlamydial transcription factor, EUO, to repress late genes was enhanced by a plasmid-encoded protein, Pgp4. In addition, studies with Chlamydia Pgp4-deficient strains provide evidence that Pgp4 delays late gene expression in infected cells. Thus, Pgp4 is a novel regulator of late gene expression in Chlamydia through its ability to enhance the repressor function of EUO.
Project description:Chlamydiae are obligate intracellular bacteria comprising important human pathogens and symbionts of protists. Molecular evidence indicates a tremendous diversity of chlamydiae particularly in marine environments, yet our current knowledge is based mainly on terrestrial representatives. Here we provide first insights into the biology of marine chlamydiae representing three divergent clades. Our analysis of single-cell amplified genomes revealed hallmarks of the chlamydial lifestyle, supporting the ancient origin of their characteristic developmental cycle and major virulence mechanisms. Surprisingly, these chlamydial genomes encode a complete flagellar apparatus, a previously unreported feature. We show that flagella are an ancient trait that was subject to differential gene loss among extant chlamydiae. Together with a chemotaxis system, these marine chlamydiae are likely motile, with flagella potentially playing a role during host cell infection. This study broadens our view on chlamydial biology and indicates a largely underestimated potential to adapt to different hosts and environments.
Project description:Regulation of gene expression ensures an organism responds to stimuli and undergoes proper development. Although the regulatory networks in bacteria have been investigated in model microorganisms, nearly nothing is known about the evolution and plasticity of these networks in obligate, intracellular bacteria. The phylum Chlamydiae contains a vast array of host-associated microbes, including several human pathogens. The Chlamydiae are unique among obligate, intracellular bacteria as they undergo a complex biphasic developmental cycle in which large swaths of genes are temporally regulated. Coupled with the low number of transcription factors, these organisms offer a model to study the evolution of regulatory networks in intracellular organisms. We provide the first comprehensive analysis exploring the diversity and evolution of regulatory networks across the phylum. We utilized a comparative genomics approach to construct predicted coregulatory networks, which unveiled genus- and family-specific regulatory motifs and architectures, most notably those of virulence-associated genes. Surprisingly, our analysis suggests that few regulatory components are conserved across the phylum, and those that are conserved are involved in the exploitation of the intracellular niche. Our study thus lends insight into a component of chlamydial evolution that has otherwise remained largely unexplored.
Project description:Obligate intracellular chlamydiae diverged into pathogenic and environmental chlamydiae 0.7-1.4 billion years ago. While pathogenic chlamydiae have adapted to a wide range of vertebrates, environmental chlamydiae inhabit unicellular amoebae, the free-living Acanthamoeba. However, how and why this divergence occurred remains unclear. Meanwhile, giant viruses consisting of protozoa-related and protozoa-unrelated viruses have been discovered, with the former group being suggested to have more influenced environmental chlamydiae during their evolution while cohabiting host amoebae. Against this background, we attempted to visualize genes of giant viruses in chlamydial genomes by bioinformatic analysis mainly with comparative genome and phylogenic analysis, seeking genes present in chlamydiae that are specifically shared with protozoa-related giant viruses. As a result, in contrast to protozoa-unrelated giant viruses, the genes of protozoa-related giant viruses were significantly shared in both the chlamydia genomes depending on the giant virus type. In particular, the prevalence of Mimiviridae genes among the protozoa-related giant virus genes in chlamydial genomes was significantly high. Meanwhile, the prevalence of protozoa-related giant virus genes in pathogenic chlamydia genomes was consistently higher than those of environmental chlamydiae; the actual number of sequences similar to giant virus was also significantly predominant compared with those in the environmental chlamydial genomes. Among them, the most prevalent of giant virus was in the case of chlamydiae with Megavirus chiliensis; total of 1338 genes of the chlamydiae were found to be shared with the virus (444 genes specific to environmental chlamydiae, 892 genes shared between both chlamydiae, only two genes in the pathogenic chlamydiae). Phylogenic analysis with most prevalent sets (Megavirus chiliensis and Protochlamydia EI2 or Chlamydia trachomatis L2 434Bu) showed the presence of orthologs between these with several clustered. In addition, Pearson's single regression analysis revealed that almost the prevalence of the genes from the giant viruses in chlamydial genomes was negatively and specifically correlated with the number of chlamydial open reading frames (ORFs). Thus, these results indicated the trace of lateral gene transfer between protozoa-related giant viruses of family Mimiviridae and chlamydiae. This is the first demonstration of a putative linkage between chlamydiae and the giant viruses, providing us with a hint to understand chlamydial evolution.
Project description:Chlamydia trachomatis is an obligate intracellular bacterium that is a globally important human pathogen. The chlamydial plasmid is an attenuating virulence factor, but the molecular basis for attenuation is not understood. Chlamydiae replicate within a membrane-bound vacuole termed an inclusion, where they undergo a biphasic developmental growth cycle and differentiate from noninfectious into infectious organisms. Late in the developmental cycle, the fragile chlamydia-laden inclusion retains its integrity by surrounding itself with scaffolds of host cytoskeletal proteins. The ability of chlamydiae to developmentally free themselves from this cytoskeleton network is a fundamental virulence trait of the pathogen. Here, we show that plasmidless chlamydiae are incapable of disrupting their cytoskeletal entrapment and remain intracellular as stable mature inclusions that support high numbers of infectious organisms. By using deletion mutants of the eight plasmid-carried genes (?pgp1 to ?pgp8), we show that Pgp4, a transcriptional regulator of multiple chromosomal genes, is required for exit. Exit of chlamydiae is dependent on protein synthesis and is inhibited by the compound C1, an inhibitor of the type III secretion system (T3S). Exit of plasmid-free and ?pgp4 organisms, which failed to lyse infected cells, was rescued by latrunculin B, an inhibitor of actin polymerization. Our findings describe a genetic mechanism of chlamydial exit from host cells that is dependent on an unknown pgp4-regulated chromosomal T3S effector gene.Chlamydia's obligate intracellular life style requires both entry into and exit from host cells. Virulence factors that function in exiting are unknown. The chlamydial inclusion is stabilized late in the infection cycle by F-actin. A prerequisite of chlamydial exit is its ability to disassemble actin from the inclusion. We show that chlamydial plasmid-free organisms, and also a plasmid gene protein 4 (pgp4) null mutant, do not disassociate actin from the inclusion and fail to exit cells. We further provide evidence that Pgp4-regulated exit is dependent on the chlamydial type III secretion system. This study is the first to define a genetic mechanism that functions in chlamydial lytic exit from host cells. The findings also have practical implications for understanding why plasmid-free chlamydiae are highly attenuated and have the ability to elicit robust protective immune responses.
Project description:The pathogenic bacterium Chlamydia replicates in a eukaryotic host cell via a developmental cycle marked by temporal waves of gene expression. We have previously shown that late genes transcribed by the major chlamydial RNA polymerase, ?(66) RNA polymerase, are regulated by a transcriptional repressor EUO. We now report that EUO also represses promoters for a second subset of late genes that are transcribed by an alternative polymerase called ?(28) RNA polymerase. EUO bound in the vicinity of six ?(28) -dependent promoters and inhibited transcription of each promoter. We used a mutational analysis to demonstrate that the EUO binding site functions as an operator that is necessary and sufficient for EUO-mediated repression of ?(28) -dependent transcription. We also verified specific binding of EUO to ?(66) -dependent and ?(28) -dependent promoters with a DNA immunoprecipitation assay. These findings support a model in which EUO represses expression of both ?(66) -dependent and ?(28) -dependent late genes. We thus propose that EUO is the master regulator of late gene expression in the chlamydial developmental cycle.
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:Many gram-negative bacterial pathogens employ type III secretion systems for infectious processes. Chlamydiae are obligate intracellular bacteria that encode a conserved type III secretion system that is likely requisite for growth. Typically, genes encoding type III secretion systems are located in a single locus; however, for chlamydiae these genes are scattered throughout the genome. Little is known regarding the gene regulatory mechanisms for this essential virulence determinant. To facilitate identification of cis-acting transcriptional regulatory elements, the operon structure was determined. This analysis revealed 10 operons that contained 37 genes associated with the type III secretion system. Linkage within these operons suggests a role in type III secretion for each of these genes, including 13 genes encoding proteins with unknown function. The transcriptional start site for each operon was determined. In conjunction with promoter activity assays, this analysis revealed that the type III secretion system operons encode sigma(70)-like promoter elements. Transcriptional initiation by a sigma factor responsible for constitutive gene expression indicates that undefined activators or repressors regulate developmental stage-specific expression of chlamydial type III secretion system genes.