Chlamydiae are widespread Gram-negative pathogens of humans and animals. Salicylidene acylhydrazides, developed as inhibitors of type III secretion system (T3SS) in Yersinia spp., have an inhibitory effect on chlamydial infection. However, these inhibitors also have the capacity to chelate iron, and it is possible that their antichlamydial effects are caused by iron starvation. Therefore, we have explored the modification of salicylidene acylhydrazides with the goal to uncouple the antichlamydial effect from iron starvation. We discovered that benzylidene acylhydrazides, which cannot chelate iron, inhibit chlamydial growth. Biochemical and genetic analyses suggest that the derivative compounds inhibit chlamydiae through a T3SS-independent mechanism. Four single nucleotide polymorphisms were identified in a Chlamydia muridarum variant resistant to benzylidene acylhydrazides, but it may be necessary to segregate the mutations to differentiate their roles in the resistance phenotype. Benzylidene acylhydrazides are well tolerated by host cells and probiotic vaginal Lactobacillus species and are therefore of potential therapeutic value.
Lactobacillus species dominate the microbiome in the lower genital tract of most reproductive-age women. Producing lactic acid and H2O2, lactobacilli are believed to play an important role in prevention of colonization by and growth of pathogens. However, to date, there have been no reported studies characterizing how lactobacilli interact with Chlamydia trachomatis, a leading sexually transmitted bacterium. In this report, we demonstrate inactivation of C. trachomatis infectivity by culture media conditioned by Lactobacillus crispatus, L. gasseri and L. jensenii, known to be dominating organisms in the human vaginal microbiome. Lactobacillus still cultures produced lactic acid, leading to time- and concentration-dependent killing of C. trachomatis. Neutralization of the acidic media completely reversed chlamydia killing. Addition of lactic acid into Lactobacillus-unconditioned growth medium recapitulated the chlamydiacidal activity of conditioned media. The H2O2 concentrations in the still cultures were found to be comparable to those reported for the cervicovaginal fluid, but insufficient to inactivate chlamydiae. Aeration of Lactobacillus cultures by shaking markedly induced H2O2 production, but strongly inhibited Lactobacillus growth and lactic acid production, and thus severely affected acidification, leading to significantly reduced chlamydiacidal efficiency. These observations indicate lactobacilli inactivate chlamydiae primarily through maintaining acidity in a relatively hypoxic environment in the vaginal lumen with limited H2O2, which is consistent with the notion that women with higher vaginal pH are more prone to sexually transmitted C. trachomatis infection. In addition to lactic acid, formic acid and acetic acid also exhibited potent chlamydiacidal activities. Taken together, our findings imply that lowering the vaginal pH through engineering of the vaginal microbiome and other means will make women less susceptible to C. trachomatis infection.
Chlamydia is a common bacterial pathogen responsible for many diseases. Methods for transforming this important organism using a β-lactamase as a selection marker have been developed very recently. However, the National Institutes of Health Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules do not permit transformation experiments with β-lactamase gene-containing vectors for certain human chlamydial pathogens. Therefore, a different selection marker is urgently needed for transformation of those chlamydiae.
After transformation of plasmid-free Chlamydia trachomatis with pGFP:SW2, which carries a β-lactamase and a chloramphenicol acetyltransferase gene fused to a green fluorescence protein gene, transformants were obtained by selection with either ampicillin or chloramphenicol. Stable chloramphenicol-resistant, but ampicillin-sensitive, transformants were obtained using a pGFP:SW2 derivative without the β-lactamase. All transformants expressed green fluorescence protein and had glycogen synthesis activity restored.
Chloramphenicol resistance may be used as a selection marker for genetic experiments in Chlamydia. This eliminates the requirement for the use of β-lactamase, of which dissemination to some C. trachomatis serovars may jeopardize clinical treatment of chlamydial infections in pregnant women. Chloramphenicol acetyltransferase may also serve as a useful secondary selection marker for genetic analyses in β-lactamase-transformed chlamydial strains.
Chlamydia; Chlamydia trachomatis; Chloramphenicol; Chloramphenicol acetyltransferase; Sexually transmitted infections; Transformation; Transformation selection marker
In 2008 we published the first set of guidelines for standardizing research in autophagy. Since then, research on this topic has continued to accelerate, and many new scientists have entered the field. Our knowledge base and relevant new technologies have also been expanding. Accordingly, it is important to update these guidelines for monitoring autophagy in different organisms. Various reviews have described the range of assays that have been used for this purpose. Nevertheless, there continues to be confusion regarding acceptable methods to measure autophagy, especially in multicellular eukaryotes. A key point that needs to be emphasized is that there is a difference between measurements that monitor the numbers or volume of autophagic elements (e.g., autophagosomes or autolysosomes) at any stage of the autophagic process vs. those that measure flux through the autophagy pathway (i.e., the complete process); thus, a block in macroautophagy that results in autophagosome accumulation needs to be differentiated from stimuli that result in increased autophagic activity, defined as increased autophagy induction coupled with increased delivery to, and degradation within, lysosomes (in most higher eukaryotes and some protists such as Dictyostelium) or the vacuole (in plants and fungi). In other words, it is especially important that investigators new to the field understand that the appearance of more autophagosomes does not necessarily equate with more autophagy. In fact, in many cases, autophagosomes accumulate because of a block in trafficking to lysosomes without a concomitant change in autophagosome biogenesis, whereas an increase in autolysosomes may reflect a reduction in degradative activity. Here, we present a set of guidelines for the selection and interpretation of methods for use by investigators who aim to examine macroautophagy and related processes, as well as for reviewers who need to provide realistic and reasonable critiques of papers that are focused on these processes. These guidelines are not meant to be a formulaic set of rules, because the appropriate assays depend in part on the question being asked and the system being used. In addition, we emphasize that no individual assay is guaranteed to be the most appropriate one in every situation, and we strongly recommend the use of multiple assays to monitor autophagy. In these guidelines, we consider these various methods of assessing autophagy and what information can, or cannot, be obtained from them. Finally, by discussing the merits and limits of particular autophagy assays, we hope to encourage technical innovation in the field.
LC3; autolysosome; autophagosome; flux; lysosome; phagophore; stress; vacuole
Type III secretion system is a virulent factor for many pathogens, and is thought to play multiple roles in the development cycle and pathogenesis of chlamydia, an important human pathogen. However, due to the obligate intracellular parasitical nature of chlamydiae and a lack of convenient genetic methodology for the organisms, very limited approaches are available to study the chlamydial type III secretion system. In this study, we explored the reconstitution of a chlamydial type III secretion in Escherichia coli.
We successfully cloned all 6 genomic DNA clusters of the chlamydial type III secretion system into three bacterial plasmids. 5 of the 6 clusters were found to direct mRNA synthesis from their own promoters in Escherichia coli transformed with the three plasmids. Cluster 5 failed to express mRNA using its own promoters. However, fusion of cluster 5 to cluster 6 resulted in the expression of cluster 5 mRNA. Although only two of the type III secretion system proteins were detected transformed E. coli due to limited antibody availability, type III secretion system-like structures were detected in ultrathin sections in a small proportion of transformed E. coli.
We have successfully generated E. coli expressing all genes of the chlamydial type III secretion system. This serves as a foundation for optimal expression and assembly of the recombinant chlamydial type III secretion system, which may be extremely useful for the characterization of the chlamydial type III secretion system and for studying its role in chlamydial pathogenicity.
As arguably the most successful parasite, Chlamydia is an obligate intracellular bacterium replicating inside a vacuole of eukaryotic host cells. The chlamydial vacuole does not fuse with the defense cell organelle lysosome. We previously showed that chlamydial infection increases markers of autophagy, an innate antimicrobial activity requiring lysosomal function. However, the work presented here demonstrates that p62, an autophagy protein that is degraded in lysosomes, either remained unchanged or increased in chlamydia-infected human epithelial, mouse fibroblast, and mouse macrophage cell lines. In addition, the activities of three lysosomal enzymes analyzed were diminished in chlamydia-infected macrophages. Bafilomycin A1 (BafA), a specific inhibitor of vacuolar ATPase (vATPase) required for lysosomal function, increased the growth of the human pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis (L2) in wild-type murine fibroblasts and macrophages but inhibited growth in the autophagy-deficient ATG5−/− fibroblasts. BafA exhibited only slight inhibition or no effect on L2 growth in multiple human genital epithelial cell lines. In contrast to L2, the mouse pathogen Chlamydia muridarum (MoPn) was consistently inhibited by BafA in all cell lines examined, regardless of species origin and autophagy status. Finally, L2 but not MoPn grew more efficiently in the ATG5−/− cells than in wild-type cells. These results suggest that there are two types of vATPase-bearing organelles that regulate chlamydial infection: one supports chlamydial infection, while the other plays a defensive role through autophagy when cells are artificially infected with certain chlamydiae that have not been adapted to the host species.
AIM: To determine if the cytotail of the principal sheddase tumor necrosis factor-α converting enzyme (TACE; ADAM17) controls protein ectodomain shedding.
METHODS: Site-directed mutagenesis was performed to derive TACE variants. The resulting TACE expression plasmids with amino acid substitutions in the extracellular, cysteine-rich disintegrin domain (CRD) and/or deleted cytotail, along with an expression vector for the enhanced green fluorescence protein were transfected into shedding-defective M1 mutants stably expressing transmembrane L-selectin or transforming growth factor (TGF)-α. The expression levels of the TACE substrates at the cell surface were determined by flow cytometry.
RESULTS: Consistent with published data, a single point mutation (C600Y) in the CRD led to shedding deficiency. However, removal of the cytotail from the C600Y TACE variant partially restored ectodomain cleavage of TGF-α and L-selectin. Cytotail-deleted mutants with any other substituting amino acid residues in place of Cys600 displayed similar function compared with tail-less C600Y TACE.
CONCLUSION: The cytotail plays an inhibitory role, which becomes evident when it is removed from an enzyme with another mutation that affects the enzyme function.
ADAM17; Ectodomain shedding; L-selectin; Tumor necrosis factor-α converting enzyme
Chlamydia trachomatis, an obligate intracellular bacterium, is a highly prevalent human pathogen. Hydroxamic-acid-based matrix metalloprotease inhibitors can effectively inhibit the pathogen both in vitro and in vivo, and have exhibited therapeutic potential. Here, we provide genome sequencing data indicating that peptide deformylase (PDF) is the sole target of the inhibitors in this organism. We further report molecular mechanisms that control chlamydial PDF (cPDF) expression and inhibition efficiency. In particular, we identify the σ66-dependent promoter that controls cPDF gene expression and demonstrate that point mutations in this promoter lead to resistance by increasing cPDF transcription. Furthermore, we show that substitution of two amino acids near the active site of the enzyme alters enzyme kinetics and protein stability.
AIM: To determine if and how a loop region in the peptide deformylase (PDF) of Chlamydia trachomatis regulates enzyme function.
METHODS: Molecular dynamics simulation was used to study a structural model of the chlamydial PDF (cPDF) and predict the temperature factor per residue for the protein backbone atoms. Site-directed mutagenesis was performed to construct cPDF variants. Catalytic properties of the resulting variants were determined by an enzyme assay using formyl-Met-Ala-Ser as a substrate.
RESULTS: In silico analysis predicted a significant increase in atomic motion in the DGELV sequence (residues 68-72) of a loop region in a cPDF mutant, which is resistant to PDF inhibitors due to two amino acid substitutions near the active site, as compared to wild-type cPDF. The D68R and D68R/E70R cPDF variants demonstrated significantly increased catalytic efficiency. The E70R mutant showed only slightly decreased efficiency. Although deletion of residues 68-72 resulted in a nearly threefold loss in substrate binding, this deficiency was compensated for by increased catalytic efficiency.
CONCLUSION: Movement of the DGELV loop region is involved in a rate-limiting conformational change of the enzyme during catalysis. However, there is no stringent sequence requirement for this region for cPDF enzyme activity.
Antibacterial; Chlamydia; Peptide deformylase; Sexually transmitted infection
Autophagy, a eukaryotic cellular activity leading to the degradation of cellular components, serves as a defense mechanism against facultative intracellular bacteria as well as a growth niche for the obligate intracellular bacterium Coxiella burnetii. We here demonstrate that the obligate intracellular bacterial pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis lymphogranuloma venereum strongly induced autophagy in the middle of the chlamydial developmental cycle (24 h after infection), a time point with maximal level of chlamydial replication, but not during the early stages with low overall chlamydial metabolism (before 8 h). No autophagy induction was evident in cells exposed to heat- and ultraviolet-inactivated elementary bodies (EBs, the infectious form of Chlamydia) nor to inocula from which EBs had been removed prior to inoculation. Blocking chlamydial development with chloramphenicol also prevented autophagy induction in cells infected with infectious EBs. It appears that autophagy is activated primarily in response to the metabolic stress consequent to chlamydial replication. However, autophagy-defective ATG5−/− cells supported chlamydial development as efficiently as autophagy-proficient ATG5+/+ cells.
autophagy; Chlamydia trachomatis; ATG5; LC3
Chlamydia trachomatis is an obligate intracellular bacterium responsible for a number of health problems, including sexually transmitted infection in humans. We recently discovered that C. trachomatis infection in cell culture is highly susceptible to inhibitors of peptide deformylase, an enzyme that removes the N-formyl group from newly synthesized polypeptides. In this study, one of the deformylase inhibitors, GM6001, was tested for potential antichlamydial activity using a murine genital C. muridarum infection model. Topical application of GM6001 significantly reduced C. muridarum loading in BALB/c mice that were vaginally infected with the pathogen. In striking contrast, growth of the probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum is strongly resistant to the PDF inhibitor. GM6001 demonstrated no detectable toxicity against host cells. On the basis of these data and our previous observations, we conclude that further evaluation of PDF inhibitors for prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted chlamydial infection is warranted.
Chlamydia trachomatis; Chlamydia muridarum; sexually transmitted infection; sexually transmitted disease; peptide deformylase; GM6001
Transforming growth factor-α (TGF-α) is a member of the EGF growth factor family. Both transmembrane TGF-α and the proteolytically released soluble TGF-α can bind to the EGF/TGF-α tyrosine kinase receptor (EGFR) and activate the EGFR-induced signaling pathways. We now demonstrate that transmembrane TGF-α physically interacts with CD9, a protein with four membrane spanning domains that is frequently coexpressed with TGF-α in carcinomas. This interaction was mediated through the extracellular domain of transmembrane TGF-α. CD9 expression strongly decreased the growth factor– and PMA- induced proteolytic conversions of transmembrane to soluble TGF-α and strongly enhanced the TGF- α–induced EGFR activation, presumably in conjunction with increased expression of transmembrane TGF-α. In juxtacrine assays, the CD9-induced EGFR hyperactivation by transmembrane TGF-α resulted in increased proliferation. In contrast, CD9 coexpression with transmembrane TGF-α decreased the autocrine growth stimulatory effect of TGF-α in epithelial cells. This decrease was associated with increased expression of the cdk inhibitor, p21CIP1. These data reveal that the association of CD9 with transmembrane TGF-α regulates ligand-induced activation of the EGFR, and results in altered cell proliferation.
transforming growth factor-α; CD9; epidermal growth factor receptor; ectodomain; shedding