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Microbes Infect. 2000 May;2(6):581-92.

Genetic differences in the Chlamydia trachomatis tryptophan synthase alpha-subunit can explain variations in serovar pathogenesis.

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Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Aarhus, The Bartholin Building, DK-8000 C, Aarhus, Denmark.


The human pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis is an obligate intracellular bacterium, characterized by a developmental cycle that alternates between the infectious, extracellular elementary bodies and intracellular, metabolically active reticulate bodies. The cellular immune effector interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) inhibits chlamydial multiplication in human epithelial cells by induction of the tryptophan degrading enzyme indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase. IFN-gamma causes persistent C. trachomatis serovar A infections with atypical reticulate bodies that are unable to redifferentiate into elementary bodies and show diminished expression of important immunogens, but not of GroEL. However, the sensitivity to IFN-gamma varies among serovars of C. trachomatis. In our previous study significant IFN-gamma-specific, but tryptophan reversible, induction of proteins in C. trachomatis A and L2 with molecular masses of approximately 30 and 40 kDa was observed on 2D-gels. The 30-kDa protein from C. trachomatis L2 migrated with a significantly lower molecular weight in C. trachomatis A. In this paper we include C. trachomatis B, C and D in our investigations and identify the proteins as alpha- and beta-subunits of the chlamydial tryptophan synthase using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry. DNA sequencing of the trpA genes from C. trachomatis A and C shows that the TrpA in these serovars is a 7.7-kDa truncated version of C. trachomatis D and L2 TrpA. The truncation probably impairs the TrpA activity, thus elucidating a possible molecular mechanism behind variations in the pathogenesis of C. trachomatis serovars.

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