Characterization of the Growth of Chlamydia trachomatis in In Vitro-Generated Stratified Epithelium.
ABSTRACT: Chlamydia infection targets the mucosal epithelium, where squamous and columnar epithelia can be found. Research on Chlamydia-epithelia interaction has predominantly focused on columnar epithelia, with very little known on how Chlamydia interacts with the squamous epithelium. The stratification and differentiation processes found in the squamous epithelium might influence chlamydial growth and infection dissemination. For this reason, three-dimensional (3D) organotypic stratified squamous epithelial cultures were adapted to mimic the stratified squamous epithelium and chlamydial infection was characterized. Chlamydia trachomatis infection in monolayers and 3D cultures were monitored by immunofluorescence and transmission electron microscopy to evaluate inclusion growth and chlamydial interconversion between elementary and reticulate body. We observed that the stratified epithelium varied in susceptibility to C. trachomatis serovars L2 and D infection. The undifferentiated basal cells were susceptible to infection by both serovars, while the terminally differentiated upper layers were resistant. The differentiating suprabasal cells exhibited different susceptibilities to serovars L2 and D, with the latter unable to establish a successful infection in this layer. Mature elementary body-containing inclusions were much more prevalent in these permissive basal layers, while the uppermost differentiated layers consistently harbored very few reticulate bodies with no elementary bodies, indicative of severely limited bacterial replication and development. For serovar D, the differentiation state of the host cell was a determining factor, as calcium-induced differentiation of cells in a monolayer negatively affected growth of this serovar, in contrast to serovar L2. The apparent completion of the developmental cycle in the basal layers of the 3D cultures correlated with the greater degree of dissemination within and the level of disruption of the stratified epithelium. Our studies indicate that the squamous epithelium is a suboptimal environment for growth, and thus potentially contributing to the protection of the lower genital tract from infection. The relatively more fastidious serovar D exhibited more limited growth than the faster-growing and more invasive L2 strain. However, if given access to the more hospitable basal cell layer, both strains were able to produce mature inclusions, replicate, and complete their developmental cycle.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Chlamydia trachomatis is an intracellular bacteria which consist of three biovariants; trachoma (serovars A-C), urogenital (serovars D-K) and lymphogranuloma venereum (L1-L3), causing a wide spectrum of disease in humans. Monocytes are considered to disseminate this pathogen throughout the body while dendritic cells (DCs) play an important role in mediating immune response against bacterial infection. To determine the fate of C. trachomatis within human peripheral blood monocytes and monocyte-derived DCs, these two sets of immune cells were infected with serovars Ba, D and L2, representative of the three biovariants of C. trachomatis. RESULTS: Our study revealed that the different serovars primarily infect monocytes and DCs in a comparable fashion, however undergo differential infection outcome, serovar L2 being the only candidate to inflict active infection. Moreover, the C. trachomatis serovars Ba and D become persistent in monocytes while the serovars predominantly suffer degradation within DCs. Effects of persistence gene Indoleamine 2, 3-dioxygenase (IDO) was not clearly evident in the differential infection outcome. The heightened levels of inflammatory cytokines secreted by the chlamydial infection in DCs compared to monocytes seemed to be instrumental for this consequence. The immune genes induced in monocytes and DCs against chlamydial infection involves a different set of Toll-like receptors, indicating that distinct intracellular signalling pathways are adopted for immune response. CONCLUSION: Our results demonstrate that the host pathogen interaction in chlamydia infection is not only serovar specific but manifests cell specific features, inducing separate immune response cascade in monocytes and DCs.
Project description:The developmental cycle of the obligate intracellular pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis serovar L2 is controlled in part by the small non-coding RNA (sRNA), IhtA. All Chlamydia alternate in a regulated fashion between the infectious elementary body (EB) and the replicative reticulate body (RB) which asynchronously re-differentiates back to the terminal EB form at the end of the cycle. The histone like protein HctA is central to RB:EB differentiation late in the cycle as it binds to and occludes the genome, thereby repressing transcription and translation. The sRNA IhtA is a critical component of this regulatory loop as it represses translation of hctA until late in infection at which point IhtA transcription decreases, allowing HctA expression to occur and RB to EB differentiation to proceed. It has been reported that IhtA is expressed during infection by the human pathogens C. trachomatis serovars L2, D and L2b and C. pneumoniae. We show in this work that IhtA is also expressed by the animal pathogens C. caviae and C. muridarum. Expression of HctA in E. coli is lethal and co-expression of IhtA relieves this phenotype. To determine if regulation of HctA by IhtA is a conserved mechanism across pathogenic chlamydial species, we cloned hctA and ihtA from C. trachomatis serovar D, C. muridarum, C. caviae and C. pneumoniae and assayed for rescue of growth repression in E. coli co-expression studies. In each case, co-expression of ihtA with the cognate hctA resulted in relief of growth repression. In addition, expression of each chlamydial species IhtA rescued the lethal phenotype of C. trachomatis serovar L2 HctA expression. As biolayer interferometry studies indicate that IhtA interacts directly with hctA message for all species tested, we predict that conserved sequences of IhtA are necessary for function and/or binding.
Project description:Chlamydia trachomatis is an obligate intracellular bacterial pathogen that causes blinding trachoma and sexually transmitted disease. C. trachomatis isolates are classified into 2 biovars-lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) and trachoma-which are distinguished biologically by their natural host cell infection tropism. LGV biovars infect macrophages and are invasive, whereas trachoma biovars infect oculo-urogenital epithelial cells and are noninvasive. The C. trachomatis plasmid is an important virulence factor in the pathogenesis of these infections. Central to its pathogenic role is the transcriptional regulatory function of the plasmid protein Pgp4, which regulates the expression of plasmid and chromosomal virulence genes. As many gene regulatory functions are post-transcriptional, we employed a comparative proteomic study of cells infected with plasmid-cured C. trachomatis serovars A and D (trachoma biovar), a L2 serovar (LGV biovar), and the L2 serovar transformed with a plasmid containing a nonsense mutation in pgp4 to more completely elucidate the effects of the plasmid on chlamydial infection biology. Our results show that the Pgp4-dependent elevations in the levels of Pgp3 and a conserved core set of chromosomally encoded proteins are remarkably similar for serovars within both C. trachomatis biovars. Conversely, we found a plasmid-dependent, Pgp4-independent, negative regulation in the expression of the chlamydial protease-like activity factor (CPAF) for the L2 serovar but not the A and D serovars. The molecular mechanism of plasmid-dependent negative regulation of CPAF expression in the LGV serovar is not understood but is likely important to understanding its macrophage infection tropism and invasive infection nature.IMPORTANCE The Chlamydia trachomatis plasmid is an important virulence factor in the pathogenesis of chlamydial infection. It is known that plasmid protein 4 (Pgp4) functions in the transcriptional regulation of the plasmid virulence protein 3 (Pgp3) and multiple chromosomal loci of unknown function. Since many gene regulatory functions can be post-transcriptional, we undertook a comparative proteomic analysis to better understand the plasmid's role in chlamydial and host protein expression. We report that Pgp4 is a potent and specific master positive regulator of a common core of plasmid and chromosomal virulence genes shared by multiple C. trachomatis serovars. Notably, we show that the plasmid is a negative regulator of the expression of the chlamydial virulence factor CPAF. The plasmid regulation of CPAF is independent of Pgp4 and restricted to a C. trachomatis macrophage-tropic strain. These findings are important because they define a previously unknown role for the plasmid in the pathophysiology of invasive chlamydial infection.
Project description:The sexually transmitted pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) is able to replicate and survive in human intestinal epithelial cells, being the gastro-intestinal tract a suitable site of residence for this microorganism. In this context, no detailed information about the mechanisms of cell death in intestinal cell lines after a chlamydial infection is available. The aim of this study was to compare the effect of two different CT serovars (D and L2) on the survival/death of different intestinal cell lines (Caco-2 and COLO-205), using endocervical cells (HeLa) as a reference model of genital infection. Seventy two hours after chlamydial infection at different multiplicity of infection (MOI) levels, the viability of HeLa, Caco-2 and COLO 205 cells was evaluated through dose-response experiments by means of a MTS-based assay. To get deeper insights in the mechanisms of cell death induced by CT, cell viability was assessed in presence of different inhibitors (i.e. pan-caspase inhibitor Z-VAD, necroptosis inhibitor Necrostatin-1, hydrogen peroxide scavenger catalase, caspase-1 inhibitor Ac-YVAD-cmk). Moreover, the activation of effector caspases and the presence of cellular apoptotic/necrotic changes were evaluated at different time points after CT infection. Our results demonstrated that, for both chlamydial serovars, intestinal cell lines are more resistant to CT-induced cell death compared to HeLa, thus representing a suitable 'niche' for chlamydial residence and replication. In literature, apoptosis has been widely described to be the main cell death mechanism elicited by chlamydia infection. However, our data demonstrate that necroptosis plays a relevant role, proceeding in parallel with apoptosis. The protective effect of catalase suggests the involvement of oxidative stress in triggering both cell death pathways. Moreover, we demonstrated that caspase-1 is involved in CT-induced cell death, potentially contributing to host inflammatory response and tissue damage. Cells infected by L2 serovar displayed a higher activation of effector caspases compared to cells infected with serovar D, suggesting a serovar-specific activation of apoptotic pathways and potentially explaining the greater virulence of L serovars. Finally, we found that Chlamydia elicits the early externalization of phosphatidylserine on the external leaflet of plasma membrane independently of caspase activation.
Project description:Chlamydia trachomatis serovars A-C infect conjunctival epithelial cells and untreated infection can lead to blindness. D-K infect genital tract epithelial cells resulting in pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, and sterility while L1-L3 infect epithelial cells and macrophages, causing an invasive infection. Despite some strains of Chlamydia sharing high nucleotide sequence similarity, the bacterial and host factors that govern tissue and cellular tropism remain largely unknown. Following introduction of C. trachomatis via intercourse, epithelial cells of the vagina, foreskin, and ectocervix are exposed to large numbers of the pathogen, yet their response to infection and the dynamics of chlamydial growth in these cells has not been well-characterized compared to growth in more permissive cell types that harbor C. trachomatis. We compared intracellular replication and inclusion development of representative C. trachomatis serovars in immortalized human conjunctival epithelial, urogenital epithelial, PMA stimulated THP-1 (macrophages), and HeLa cells. We demonstrate that urogenital epithelial cells of the vagina, ectocervix, and foreskin restrict replication of serovar A while promoting robust replication and inclusion development of serovar D and L2. Macrophages restrict serovars D and A while L2 proliferates in these cells. Furthermore, we show that GM-CSF, RANTES, GRO?, IL-1?, IL-1?, IP-10, IL-8, and IL-18 are produced in a cell-type and serovar-specific manner. Collectively we have established a series of human cell lines that represent some of the first cell types to encounter C. trachomatis following exposure and show that differential production of key cytokines early during infection could regulate serovar-host cell specificity.
Project description:Plasmid-free Chlamydia trachomatis serovar L2 organisms have been transformed with chlamydial plasmid-based shuttle vectors pGFP::SW2 and pBRCT using ?-lactamase as a selectable marker. However, the recommendation of amoxicillin, a ?-lactam antibiotics, as one of the choices for treating pregnant women with cervicitis due to C. trachomatis infection has made the existing shuttle vectors unsuitable for transforming sexually transmitted infection (STI)-causing serovars of C. trachomatis. Thus, in the current study, we modified the pGFP::SW2 plasmid by fusing a blasticidin S deaminase gene to the GFP gene to establish blasticidin resistance as a selectable marker and replacing the ?-lactamase gene with the Sh ble gene to eliminate the penicillin resistance. The new vector termed pGFPBSD/Z::SW2 was used for transforming plasmid-free C. trachomatis serovar D organisms. Using blasticidin for selection, stable transformants were obtained. The GFP-BSD fusion protein was detected in cultures infected with the pGFPBSD/Z::SW2-trasnformed serovar D organisms. The transformation restored the plasmid property to the plasmid-free serovar D organisms. Thus, we have successfully modified the pGFP::SW2 transformation system for studying the biology and pathogenesis of other STI-causing serovars of C. trachomatis.
Project description:The gene encoding a 75-kilodalton (kDa) protein of Chlamydia trachomatis was cloned, expressed, and sequenced. Genomic libraries from C. trachomatis serovar D DNA were constructed in vectors pUC18 and lambda gt11 and were screened with a panel of monoclonal antibodies against C. trachomatis antigens. The only recombinants identified were those that reacted with antibody UM-13, which has specificity for a genus-specific epitope on the 75-kDa protein. The gene was localized to a 2.9-kilobase DNA fragment and sequenced. The gene consists of a long open reading frame of 1,956 nucleotides, which translates into 652 amino acids totalling 70,558 daltons in mass. Putative promoter elements and a ribosome binding site were identified within 5'-flanking sequences, and a typical rho-independent terminator was identified within 3'-flanking sequences. Screening of the GenBank nucleic acid sequence data bank revealed extensive similarity between the chlamydial 75-kDa gene and the heat shock protein 70 (hsp70) family or proteins. In particular, 71 and 69% amino acid sequence similarities were identified with hsp70 of Escherichia coli and Bacillus megaterium, respectively. Polyclonal antibodies were produced to the recombinant antigen in rabbits and detected epitopes on elementary bodies in enzyme-linked immunosorbent and indirect microimmunofluorescence assays. Antibodies reacted with an antigen of identical molecular mass in L2 and C serovars in an immunoblot assay and neutralized these serovars in cell culture. The 75-kDa protein appears to be a chlamydial homolog of hsp70, is immunoaccessible on native elementary bodies, and is a target for neutralization.
Project description:Chlamydia trachomatis infection is one of the most prevalent sexually transmitted diseases. Our research pertains to the inhibitory effect and molecular mechanism of the chlamydiaphage capsid protein VP1 on the growth of Chlamydia trachomatis. In this research, the capsid protein VP1 of the guinea-pig conjunctivitis chlamydiaphage phiCPG1 was expressed, purified and identified, and then, it was applied to the cultivation of different serovars of Chlamydia trachomatis and Chlamydia psittaci. The inhibitory effect was observed in each serovar of Chlamydia trachomatis (D, E, F, G, H, I, K, and L2) and Chlamydia psittaci inoculated with VP1 protein. The inhibition affection of VP1 on the growth of Chlamydia trachomatis was caused by the changes of expressions of some related proteins including 36 proteins up-regulated and 81 proteins down-regulated in the development cycle of Ct through the label-free test, and the transcription levels of these proteins, including Hc1, pmpD, and MOMP, were confirmed by RT-PCR. It provides information that is essential for understanding the mechanism of chlamydiaphage capsid protein VP1 on chlamydia and a new direction for further clinical treatment of chlamydial infection.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Infection due to Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common sexually transmitted bacterial disease of global health significance, and especially the L-serovars causing lymphogranuloma venereum are increasingly being found in Europe in men who have sex with men. RESULTS: The design and evaluation of a rapid, multiplex, real-time PCR targeting the major outer membrane protein (omp-1) -gene and a L-serovar-specific region of the polymorphic protein H (pmp-H) -gene for the detection of Chlamydia trachomatis is reported here. The PCR takes place as a single reaction with an internal control. For L1-, L2- and L3-serovar differentiation a second set of real-time PCRs was evaluated based on the amplification of serovar-specific omp-1-regions. The detection limit of each real-time PCR, multiplexed or not, was 50 genome copies per reaction with an efficiency ranging from 90,5-95,2%. In a retrospective analysis of 50 ocular, rectal and urogenital specimens formerly tested to be positive for C. trachomatis we identified six L2-serovars in rectal specimens of HIV-positive men, one in a double-infection with L3, and one L2 in a urethral specimen of an HIV-negative male. CONCLUSION: This unique real-time PCR is specific and convenient for the rapid routine-diagnostic detection of lymphogranuloma venereum-associated L-serovars and enables the subsequent differentiation of L1, L2 and L3 for epidemiologic studies.
Project description:In this study, we tested the hypothesis that rectal immunization with a VCG-based chlamydial vaccine would cross-protect mice against heterologous genital Chlamydia trachomatis infection and Chlamydia-induced upper genital tract pathologies in mice. Female mice were immunized with a C. trachomatis serovar D-derived subunit vaccine or control or live serovar D elementary bodies (EBs) and the antigen-specific mucosal and systemic immune responses were characterized. Vaccine efficacy was determined by evaluating the intensity and duration of genital chlamydial shedding following intravaginal challenge with live serovar E chlamydiae. Protection against upper genital tract pathology was determined by assessing infertility and tubal inflammation. Rectal immunization elicited high levels of chlamydial-specific IFN-gamma-producing CD4 T cells and humoral immune responses in mucosal and systemic tissues. The elicited immune effectors cross-reacted with the serovar E chlamydial antigen and reduced the length and intensity of genital chlamydial shedding. Furthermore, immunization with the VCG-vaccine but not the rVCG-gD2 control reduced the incidence of tubal inflammation and protected mice against Chlamydia-induced infertility. These results highlight the potential of rectal immunization as a viable mucosal route for inducing protective immunity in the female genital tract.