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Microbiology. 2000 May;146 ( Pt 5):1231-1239. doi: 10.1099/00221287-146-5-1231.

Neochlamydia hartmannellae gen. nov., sp. nov. (Parachlamydiaceae), an endoparasite of the amoeba Hartmannella vermiformis.

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Lehrstuhl für Mikrobiologie, Technische Universität München, Am Hochanger 4, D-83530 Freising, Germany1.
Central Institute of the Federal Armed Forces Medical Service, D-56065 Koblenz, Germany2.
Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA3.


Free-living amoebae are increasingly being recognized to serve as vehicles of dispersal for various bacterial human pathogens and as hosts for a variety of obligate bacterial endocytobionts. Several Chlamydia-like Acanthamoeba endocytobionts constituting the recently proposed family Parachlamydiaceae are of special interest as potential human pathogens. In this study coccoid bacterial endocytobionts of a Hartmannella vermiformis isolate were analysed. Infection of H. vermiformis with these bacteria resulted in prevention of cyst formation and subsequent host-cell lysis. Transfection experiments demonstrated that the parasites were not capable of propagating within other closely related free-living amoebae but were able to infect the distantly related species Dictyostelium discoideum. Electron microscopy of the parasites revealed typical morphological characteristics of the Chlamydiales, including the existence of a Chlamydia-like life-cycle, but indicated that these endocytobionts, in contrast to Chlamydia species, do not reside within a vacuole. Comparative 16S rRNA sequence analysis showed that the endocytobiont of H. vermiformis, classified as Neochlamydia hartmannellae gen. nov., sp. nov., is affiliated to the family Parachlamydiaceae. Confocal laser scanning microscopy in combination with fluorescence in situ hybridization using rRNA-targeted oligonucleotide probes confirmed the intracellular localization of the parasites and demonstrated the absence of other bacterial species within the Hartmannella host. These findings extend our knowledge of the phylogenetic diversity of the Parachlamydiaceae and demonstrate for the first time that these endocytobionts can naturally develop within amoebae of the genus Hartmannella.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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