Plasmid Negative Regulation of CPAF Expression Is Pgp4 Independent and Restricted to Invasive Chlamydia trachomatis Biovars.
ABSTRACT: 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:Chlamydia trachomatis is responsible for both trachoma and sexually transmitted infections, causing substantial morbidity and economic cost globally. Despite this, our knowledge of its population and evolutionary genetics is limited. Here we present a detailed phylogeny based on whole-genome sequencing of representative strains of C. trachomatis from both trachoma and lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) biovars from temporally and geographically diverse sources. Our analysis shows that predicting phylogenetic structure using ompA, which is traditionally used to classify Chlamydia, is misleading because extensive recombination in this region masks any true relationships present. We show that in many instances, ompA is a chimera that can be exchanged in part or as a whole both within and between biovars. We also provide evidence for exchange of, and recombination within, the cryptic plasmid, which is another key diagnostic target. We used our phylogenetic framework to show how genetic exchange has manifested itself in ocular, urogenital and LGV C. trachomatis strains, including the epidemic LGV serotype L2b.
Project description:Chlamydia trachomatis is an obligate intracellular bacterium causing ocular and urogenital infections in humans that are a significant burden worldwide. The completion of its characteristic infectious cycle relies on the manipulation of several host cell processes by numerous chlamydial type III secretion effector proteins. We previously identified the C. trachomatis CteG effector and showed it localizes at the host cell plasma membrane at late stages of infection. Here, we showed that, from 48 h post-infection, mammalian cells infected by wild-type C. trachomatis contained more infectious chlamydiae in the culture supernatant than cells infected by a CteG-deficient strain. This phenotype was CteG-dependent as it could be complemented in cells infected by the CteG-deficient strain carrying a plasmid encoding CteG. Furthermore, we detected a CteG-dependent defect on host cell cytotoxicity, indicating that CteG mediates chlamydial lytic exit. Previous studies showed that Pgp4, a global regulator of transcription encoded in the C. trachomatis virulence plasmid, also mediates chlamydial lytic exit. However, by using C. trachomatis strains encoding or lacking Pgp4, we showed that production and localization of CteG are not regulated by Pgp4. A C. trachomatis strain lacking both CteG and Pgp4 was as defective in promoting host cell cytotoxicity as mutant strains lacking only CteG or Pgp4. Furthermore, CteG overproduction in a plasmid suppressed the host cell cytotoxic defect of CteG- and Pgp4-deficient chlamydiae. Overall, we revealed the first chlamydial type III secretion effector involved in host cell lytic exit. Our data indicates that CteG and Pgp4 participate in a single cascade of events, but involving multiple layers of regulation, leading to lysis of host cells and release of the infectious chlamydiae.
Project description:The recent success in transformation of Chlamydia trachomatis represents a major advancement in Chlamydia research. Plasmid-free C. trachomatis serovar L2 organisms can be transformed with chlamydial plasmid-based shuttle vectors pGFP::SW2 and pBRCT. Deletion of plasmid genes coding for Pgp1 to Pgp8 in pBRCT led to the identification of Pgp1, -2, -6, and -8 as plasmid maintenance factors; Pgp4 as a transcriptional regulator of chlamydial virulence-associated gene expression; and Pgp3, -5, and -7 as being dispensable for chlamydial growth in vitro. Using the pGFP::SW2 vector system, we confirmed these findings in the current report. To further dissect the roles of pgp coding sequences and Pgp proteins in plasmid maintenance, we introduced premature stop codons into the pgp genes. Stable transformants were obtained with pGFP::SW2 derivatives carrying premature stop codons in pgp8 but not in pgp1, pgp2, and pgp6, suggesting that the pgp8 coding sequence but not the Pgp8 protein is required for maintaining the plasmid, while Pgp1, -2, and -6 proteins are necessary for plasmid maintenance. We also found that a minimum of 30 nucleotides in the pgp3 coding region was required for pgp4 expression. Finally, mCherry red fluorescent protein was successfully expressed when the mCherry gene was used to replace the pgp3, pgp4, or pgp5 coding region, indicating that these regions can be used to express nonchlamydial genes in chlamydial organisms. These novel observations have provided information for further use of chlamydial plasmid shuttle vectors as genetic tools to understand chlamydial biology and pathogenicity as well as to develop attenuated chlamydial vaccines.
Project description:Our study had three objectives: to extend the plasmid-based transformation protocol to a clinical isolate of C. trachomatis belonging to the trachoma biovar, to provide "proof of principle" that it is possible to "knock out" selected plasmid genes (retaining a replication competent plasmid) and to investigate the plasticity of the plasmid. A recently developed, plasmid-based transformation protocol for LGV isolates of C. trachomatis was modified and a plasmid-free, genital tract C. trachomatis isolate from Sweden (SWFP-) was genetically transformed. Transformation of this non-LGV C. trachomatis host required a centrifugation step, but the absence of the natural plasmid removed the need for plaque purification of transformants. Transformants expressed GFP, were penicillin resistant and iodine stain positive for accumulated glycogen. The transforming plasmid did not recombine with the host chromosome. A derivative of pGFP::SW2 carrying a deletion of the plasmid CDS5 gene was engineered. CDS5 encodes pgp3, a protein secreted from the inclusion into the cell cytoplasm. This plasmid (pCDS5KO) was used to transform C. trachomatis SWFP-, and established that pgp3 is dispensable for plasmid function. The work shows it is possible to selectively delete segments of the chlamydial plasmid, and this is the first step towards a detailed molecular dissection of the role of the plasmid. The 3.6 kb ?-galactosidase cassette was inserted into the deletion site of CDS5 to produce plasmid placZ-CDS5KO. Transformants were penicillin resistant, expressed GFP and stained for glycogen. In addition, they expressed ?-galactosidase showing that the lacZ cassette was functional in C. trachomatis. An assay was developed that allowed the visualisation of individual inclusions by X-gal staining. The ability to express active ?-galactosidase within chlamydial inclusions is an important advance as it allows simple, rapid assays to measure directly chlamydial infectivity without the need for plaquing, fluorescence or antibody staining.
Project description:Chlamydia trachomatis causes chronic inflammatory diseases of the eye and genital tract of global medical importance. The chlamydial plasmid plays an important role in the pathophysiology of these diseases as plasmid-deficient organisms are highly attenuated. The plasmid encodes both noncoding RNAs and eight conserved ORFs of undefined function. To understand plasmid gene function we generated plasmid shuttle vectors with deletions in each of the eight ORFs. The individual deletion mutants were used to transform chlamydiae and the transformants were characterized in terms of plasmid biology and transcriptional profiling. We show that pgp1-2, -6 and -8 are essential for plasmid maintenance while the other ORFs can be deleted and the plasmid stably maintained. We further show that a pgp4 knockout mutant exhibits an in vitro phenotype similar to its isogenic plasmid-less strain in terms of abnormal inclusion morphology and lack of glycogen accumulation. Microarray and qRT-PCR analysis revealed that pgp4 is involved in transcriptional regulation of multiple chromosomal genes; including the glycogen synthase gene glgA. Based on our results, we propose that Pgp1 is a plasmid replicative helicase, Pgp2 is a plasmid replication protein, Pgp4 is a transcriptional regulator of virulence associated chromosomal genes, and Pgp6-8 are plasmid partitioning proteins. These findings have important implications for understanding the plasmidM-bM-^@M-^Ys role in chlamydial pathogenesis and the development of novel antigenically multivalent live-attenuated chlamydial vaccines. Chlamydia trachomatis wild type vs. two deletion mutants, and mock
Project description:<h4>Unlabelled</h4>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.<h4>Importance</h4>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:Chlamydia trachomatis causes chronic inflammatory diseases of the eye and genital tract and has global medical importance. The chlamydial plasmid plays an important role in the pathophysiology of these diseases, as plasmid-deficient organisms are highly attenuated. The cryptic plasmid carries noncoding RNAs and eight conserved open reading frames (ORFs). To understand plasmid gene function, we generated plasmid shuttle vectors with deletions in each of the eight ORFs. The individual deletion mutants were used to transform chlamydiae and the transformants were characterized phenotypically and at the transcriptional level. We show that pgp1, -2, -6, and -8 are essential for plasmid maintenance, while the other ORFs can be deleted and the plasmid stably maintained. We further show that a pgp4 knockout mutant exhibits an in vitro phenotype similar to its isogenic plasmidless strain, in terms of abnormal inclusion morphology and lack of glycogen accumulation. Microarray and qRT-PCR analysis revealed that Pgp4 is a transcriptional regulator of plasmid-encoded pgp3 and multiple chromosomal genes, including the glycogen synthase gene glgA, that are likely important in chlamydial virulence. Our findings have major implications for understanding the plasmid's role in chlamydial pathogenesis at the molecular level.
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:Chlamydia trachomatis causes chronic inflammatory diseases of the eye and genital tract of global medical importance. The chlamydial plasmid plays an important role in the pathophysiology of these diseases as plasmid-deficient organisms are highly attenuated. The plasmid encodes both noncoding RNAs and eight conserved ORFs of undefined function. To understand plasmid gene function we generated plasmid shuttle vectors with deletions in each of the eight ORFs. The individual deletion mutants were used to transform chlamydiae and the transformants were characterized in terms of plasmid biology and transcriptional profiling. We show that pgp1-2, -6 and -8 are essential for plasmid maintenance while the other ORFs can be deleted and the plasmid stably maintained. We further show that a pgp4 knockout mutant exhibits an in vitro phenotype similar to its isogenic plasmid-less strain in terms of abnormal inclusion morphology and lack of glycogen accumulation. Microarray and qRT-PCR analysis revealed that pgp4 is involved in transcriptional regulation of multiple chromosomal genes; including the glycogen synthase gene glgA. Based on our results, we propose that Pgp1 is a plasmid replicative helicase, Pgp2 is a plasmid replication protein, Pgp4 is a transcriptional regulator of virulence associated chromosomal genes, and Pgp6-8 are plasmid partitioning proteins. These findings have important implications for understanding the plasmid’s role in chlamydial pathogenesis and the development of novel antigenically multivalent live-attenuated chlamydial vaccines. Chlamydia trachomatis wild type vs. two deletion mutants, and mock
Project description:Chlamydia trachomatis is an obligate intracellular epitheliotropic bacterial pathogen of humans. Infection of the eye can result in trachoma, the leading cause of preventable blindness in the world. The pathophysiology of blinding trachoma is driven by multiple episodes of reinfection of conjunctival epithelial cells, producing an intense chronic inflammatory response resulting in submucosal tissue remodeling and scarring. Recent reports have shown that infection with trachoma organisms lacking the cryptic chlamydial plasmid is highly attenuated in macaque eyes, a relevant experimental model of human trachoma infection. To better understand the molecular basis of plasmid-mediated infection attenuation and the potential modulation of host immunity, we conducted transcriptional profiling of human epithelial cells infected with C. trachomatis plasmid-bearing (A2497) and plasmid-deficient (A2497P(-)) organisms. Infection of human epithelial cells with either strain increased the expression of host genes coding for proinflammatory (granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor [GM-CSF], macrophage colony-stimulating factor [MCSF], interleukin-6 [IL-6], IL-8, IL-1?, CXCL1, CXCL2, CXCL3, intercellular adhesion molecule 1 [ICAM1]), chemoattraction (CCL20, CCL5, CXCL10), immune suppression (PD-L1, NFKB1B, TNFAIP3, CGB), apoptosis (CASP9, FAS, IL-24), and cell growth and fibrosis (EGR1 and IL-20) proteins. Statistically significant increases in the levels of expression of many of these genes were found in A2497-infected cells compared to the levels of expression in A2497P(-)-infected cells. Our findings suggest that the chlamydial plasmid plays a focal role in the host cell inflammatory response to infection and immune avoidance. These results provide new insights into the role of the chlamydial plasmid as a chlamydial virulence factor and its contributions to trachoma pathogenesis.