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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 May 27;100(11):6771-6. Epub 2003 May 12.

Golgi-dependent transport of cholesterol to the Chlamydia trachomatis inclusion.

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  • 1Host-Parasite Interactions Section, Laboratory of Intracellular Parasites, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health Rocky Mountain Laboratories, Hamilton, MT 59840, USA.


Cholesterol, a lipid not normally found in prokaryotes, was identified in purified Chlamydia trachomatis elementary bodies and in the chlamydial parasitophorous vacuole (inclusion) membrane of infected HeLa cells. Chlamydiae obtained eukaryotic host cell cholesterol both from de novo synthesis or low-density lipoprotein. Acquisition of either de novo-synthesized cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein-derived cholesterol was microtubule-dependent and brefeldin A-sensitive, indicating a requirement for the Golgi apparatus. Transport also required chlamydial protein synthesis, indicative of a pathogen-directed process. The cholesterol trafficking pathway appears to coincide with a previously characterized delivery of sphingomyelin to the inclusion in that similar pharmacological treatments inhibited transport of both sphingomyelin and cholesterol. These results support the hypothesis that sphingomyelin and cholesterol may be cotransported via a Golgi-dependent pathway and that the chlamydial inclusion receives cholesterol preferentially from a brefeldin A-sensitive pathway of cholesterol trafficking from the Golgi apparatus to the plasma membrane.

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