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Mol Microbiol. 2004 May;52(3):903-16.

Tryptophan recycling is responsible for the interferon-gamma resistance of Chlamydia psittaci GPIC in indoleamine dioxygenase-expressing host cells.

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National Microbiology Laboratory, Health Canada, 1015 Arlington Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3E 3R2.


Comparative genomics indicates that vast differences in Chlamydia sp. host range and disease characteristics can be traced back to subtle variations in gene content within a region of the chromosome termed the plasticity zone. Genes required for tryptophan biosynthesis are located in the plasticity zone; however, the complement of genes encoded varies depending on the chlamydial species examined. Of the sequenced chlamydia genomes, Chlamydia psittaci GPIC contains the most complete tryptophan biosynthesis operon, encoding trpRDCFBA. Immediately downstream of the trp operon are genes encoding kynureninase and ribose phosphate pyrophosphokinase. Here, we show that, in GPIC, these genes are transcribed as a single transcript, the expression of which is regulated by tryptophan. Complementation analyses, using various mutant Escherichia coli isolates, indicate that the tryptophan biosynthesis, kynureninase and ribose phosphate pyrophosphokinase gene products are functional. Furthermore, growth of C. psittaci GPIC in HeLa cells, cultured in tryptophan-free medium, could be rescued by the addition of anthranilate, kynurenine or indole. In total, our results indicate that this complement of genes enables GPIC to recycle tryptophan and thus accounts for the interferon-gamma resistant phenotype displayed in indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase-expressing host cells.

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