Project description:The native plasmid of both Chlamydia muridarum and Chlamydia trachomatis has been shown to control virulence and infectivity in mice and in lower primates. We recently described the development of a plasmid-based genetic transformation protocol for Chlamydia trachomatis that for the first time provides a platform for the molecular dissection of the function of the chlamydial plasmid and its individual genes or coding sequences (CDS). In the present study, we transformed a plasmid-free lymphogranuloma venereum isolate of C. trachomatis, serovar L2, with either the original shuttle vector (pGFP::SW2) or a derivative of pGFP::SW2 carrying a deletion of the plasmid CDS5 gene (pCDS5KO). Female mice were inoculated with these strains either intravaginally or transcervically. We found that transformation of the plasmid-free isolate with the intact pGFP::SW2 vector significantly enhanced infectivity and induction of host inflammatory responses compared to the plasmid-free parental isolate. Transformation with pCDS5KO resulted in infection courses and inflammatory responses not significantly different from those observed in mice infected with the plasmid-free isolate. These results indicate a critical role of plasmid CDS5 in in vivo fitness and in induction of inflammatory responses. To our knowledge, these are the first in vivo observations ascribing infectivity and virulence to a specific plasmid gene.
Project description:Chlamydia is an obligate intracellular bacterium and, as such, has significantly reduced its genome size and content. Although recent advances have allowed for transformation of C. trachomatis with an exogenous plasmid, genetic manipulation of Chlamydia remains challenging. In particular, the ability to create conditional knockouts has not been developed. This is particularly important given the likelihood that most genes within the small genome of Chlamydia may be essential. Here, I describe the feasibility of using CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) based on the catalytically inactive Cas9 variant (dCas9) of Staphylococcus aureus to inducibly, and reversibly, repress gene expression in C. trachomatis. CRISPRi has been developed and used successfully in a variety of bacterial organisms including E. coli and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. I first describe the creation of a single plasmid system for CRISPRi in Chlamydia, targeted to a non-essential gene, incA, that expresses a dispensable inclusion membrane protein. Control transformations of C. trachomatis serovar L2 with plasmids encoding only the dCas9, under the control of an inducible promoter, or only the guide RNA (gRNA) targeted to the 5' UTR of incA, expressed constitutively, failed to prevent expression of IncA. Importantly, expression of dCas9 alone did not have a deleterious effect on chlamydiae. Transformation of C. trachomatis with a plasmid combining the dCas9 and a gRNA targeting incA and induction of expression of the dCas9 resulted in the reversible inhibition of IncA expression. Consequently, conditional knockout mediated by CRISPRi is feasible in Chlamydia. Potential improvements and experimental concerns in using the system are also discussed.
Project description:Chlamydia trachomatis is the leading cause of preventable blindness and the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection. Different strains are associated with ocular or urogenital infections, and a proposed mechanism that may explain this tissue tropism is the active tryptophan biosynthesis pathway encoded by the genomic trpRBA operon in urogenital strains. Here we describe genetic complementation studies that are essential to confirm the role of tryptophan synthase in the context of an ocular C. trachomatis genomic background. Ocular strain A2497 was transformed with the (urogenital) pSW2::GFP shuttle vector showing that there is no strain tropism barrier to this plasmid vector; moreover, transformation had no detrimental effect on the growth kinetics of A2497, which is important given the low transformation efficiency of C. trachomatis. A derivative of the pSW2::GFP vector was used to deliver the active tryptophan biosynthesis genes from a urogenital strain of C. trachomatis (Soton D1) to A2497 with the aim of complementing the truncated trpA gene common to most ocular strains. After confirmation of intact TrpA protein expression in the transformed A2497, the resulting transformants were cultivated in tryptophan-depleted medium with and without indole or tryptophan, showing that complementation of the truncated trpA gene by the intact and functional urogenital trpRBA operon was sufficient to bestow an indole rescuable phenotype upon A2497. This study proves that pSW2::GFP derived vectors do not conform to the cross-strain transformation barrier reported for other chlamydia shuttle vectors, suggesting these as a universal vector for transformation of all C. trachomatis strains. This vector promiscuity enabled us to test the indole rescue hypothesis by transforming ocular strain A2497 with the functional urogenital trpRBA operon, which complemented the non-functional tryptophan synthase. These data confirm that the trpRBA operon is necessary and sufficient for chlamydia to survive in tryptophan-limited environments such as the female urogenital tract.
Project description:Chlamydia trachomatis is an obligate intracellular pathogen that replicates in a vacuole termed the inclusion. Many of the interactions of chlamydiae with the host cell are dependent upon bacterial protein synthesis and presumably exposure of these proteins to the cytosol. Because of the dearth of genetic tools for chlamydiae, previous studies examining secreted proteins required the use of heterologous bacterial systems. Recent advances in genetic manipulation of chlamydia now allow for transformation of the bacteria with plasmids. We describe here a shuttle vector system, pBOMB4, that permits expression of recombinant proteins under constitutive or conditional promoter control. We show that the inclusion membrane protein IncD is secreted in a type III-dependent manner from Yersinia pseudotuberculosis and also secreted from C. trachomatis in infected cells where it localizes appropriately to the inclusion membrane. IncD truncated of the first 30 amino acids containing the secretion signal is no longer secreted and is retained by the bacteria. Cytosolic exposure of secreted proteins can be confirmed by using CyaA, GSK, or microinjection assays. A protein predicted to be retained within the bacteria, NrdB is indeed localized to the chlamydia. In addition, we have shown that the chlamydial effector protein, CPAF, which is secreted into the host cell cytosol by a Sec-dependent pathway, also accesses the cytosol when expressed from this system. These assays should prove useful to assess the secretion of other chlamydial proteins that are potentially exposed to the cytosol of the host cell.
Project description:Research in Chlamydia trachomatis and Chlamydia pneumoniae has gained new traction due to recent advances in molecular biology, namely the widespread use of the metagenomic analysis and the development of a stable genomic transformation system, resulting in a better understanding of Chlamydia pathogenesis. C. trachomatis, the leading cause of bacterial sexually transmitted diseases, is responsible of cervicitis and urethritis, and C. pneumoniae, a widespread respiratory pathogen, has long been associated with several chronic inflammatory diseases with great impact on public health. The present review summarizes the current evidence regarding the complex interplay between C. trachomatis and host defense factors in the genital micro-environment as well as the key findings in chronic inflammatory diseases associated to C. pneumoniae.
Project description:Chlamydia are gram negative, obligate intracellular bacterial organisms with different species causing a multitude of infections in both humans and animals. Chlamydia trachomatis is the causative agent of the sexually transmitted infection (STI) Chlamydia, the most commonly acquired bacterial STI in the United States. Chlamydial infections have also been epidemiologically linked to cervical cancer in women co-infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV). We have previously shown chlamydial infection results in centrosome amplification and multipolar spindle formation leading to chromosomal instability. Many studies indicate that centrosome abnormalities, spindle defects, and chromosome segregation errors can lead to cell transformation. We hypothesize that the presence of these defects within infected dividing cells identifies a possible mechanism for Chlamydia as a cofactor in cervical cancer formation. Here we demonstrate that infection with Chlamydia trachomatis is able to transform 3T3 cells in soft agar resulting in anchorage independence and increased colony formation. Additionally, we show for the first time Chlamydia infects actively replicating cells in vivo. Infection of mice with Chlamydia results in significantly increased cell proliferation within the cervix, and in evidence of cervical dysplasia. Confocal examination of these infected tissues also revealed elements of chlamydial induced chromosome instability. These results contribute to a growing body of data implicating a role for Chlamydia in cervical cancer development and suggest a possible molecular mechanism for this effect.
Project description:We demonstrate the genetic transformation of Chlamydia pneumoniae using a plasmid shuttle vector system which generates stable transformants. The equine C. pneumoniae N16 isolate harbors the 7.5-kb plasmid pCpnE1. We constructed the plasmid vector pRSGFPCAT-Cpn containing a pCpnE1 backbone, plus the red-shifted green fluorescent protein (RSGFP), as well as the chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) gene used for the selection of plasmid shuttle vector-bearing C. pneumoniae transformants. Using the pRSGFPCAT-Cpn plasmid construct, expression of RSGFP in koala isolate C. pneumoniae LPCoLN was demonstrated. Furthermore, we discovered that the human cardiovascular isolate C. pneumoniae CV-6 and the human community-acquired pneumonia-associated C. pneumoniae IOL-207 could also be transformed with pRSGFPCAT-Cpn. In previous studies, it was shown that Chlamydia spp. cannot be transformed when the plasmid shuttle vector is constructed from a different plasmid backbone to the homologous species. Accordingly, we confirmed that pRSGFPCAT-Cpn could not cross the species barrier in plasmid-bearing and plasmid-free C. trachomatis, C. muridarum, C. caviae, C. pecorum, and C. abortus However, contrary to our expectation, pRSGFPCAT-Cpn did transform C. felis Furthermore, pRSGFPCAT-Cpn did not recombine with the wild-type plasmid of C. felis Taken together, we provide for the first time an easy-to-handle transformation protocol for C. pneumoniae that results in stable transformants. In addition, the vector can cross the species barrier to C. felis, indicating the potential of horizontal pathogenic gene transfer via a plasmid.IMPORTANCE The absence of tools for the genetic manipulation of C. pneumoniae has hampered research into all aspects of its biology. In this study, we established a novel reproducible method for C. pneumoniae transformation based on a plasmid shuttle vector system. We constructed a C. pneumoniae plasmid backbone shuttle vector, pRSGFPCAT-Cpn. The construct expresses the red-shifted green fluorescent protein (RSGFP) fused to chloramphenicol acetyltransferase in C. pneumoniae C. pneumoniae transformants stably retained pRSGFPCAT-Cpn and expressed RSGFP in epithelial cells, even in the absence of chloramphenicol. The successful transformation in C. pneumoniae using pRSGFPCAT-Cpn will advance the field of chlamydial genetics and is a promising new approach to investigate gene functions in C. pneumoniae biology. In addition, we demonstrated that pRSGFPCAT-Cpn overcame the plasmid species barrier without the need for recombination with an endogenous plasmid, indicating the potential probability of horizontal chlamydial pathogenic gene transfer by plasmids between chlamydial species.
Project description:Chlamydia, a major human bacterial pathogen, assumes effective strategies to protect infected cells against death-inducing stimuli, thereby ensuring completion of its developmental cycle. Paired with its capacity to cause extensive host DNA damage, this poses a potential risk of malignant transformation, consistent with circumstantial epidemiological evidence. Here we reveal a dramatic depletion of p53, a tumor suppressor deregulated in many cancers, during Chlamydia infection. Using biochemical approaches and live imaging of individual cells, we demonstrate that p53 diminution requires phosphorylation of Murine Double Minute 2 (MDM2; a ubiquitin ligase) and subsequent interaction of phospho-MDM2 with p53 before induced proteasomal degradation. Strikingly, inhibition of the p53-MDM2 interaction is sufficient to disrupt intracellular development of Chlamydia and interferes with the pathogen's anti-apoptotic effect on host cells. This highlights the dependency of the pathogen on a functional MDM2-p53 axis and lends support to a potentially pro-carcinogenic effect of chlamydial infection.
Project description:Chlamydia species infect millions of individuals worldwide and are important etiological agents of sexually transmitted disease, infertility, and blinding trachoma. Historically, the genetic intractability of this intracellular pathogen has hindered the molecular dissection of virulence factors contributing to its pathogenesis. The obligate intracellular life cycle of Chlamydia and restrictions on the use of antibiotics as selectable markers have impeded the development of molecular tools to genetically manipulate these pathogens. However, recent developments in the field have resulted in significant gains in our ability to alter the genome of Chlamydia, which will expedite the elucidation of virulence mechanisms. In this review, we discuss the challenges affecting the development of molecular genetic tools for Chlamydia and the work that laid the foundation for recent advancements in the genetic analysis of this recalcitrant pathogen.