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Microbes Infect. 2006 Jan;8(1):61-72. Epub 2005 Jul 22.

Differential expression of chlamydial signal transduction genes in normal and interferon gamma-induced persistent Chlamydophila pneumoniae infections.

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School of Life Sciences, Queensland University of Technology, GPO Box 2434, Brisbane 4001, Australia.


Characteristic features of the persistent chlamydial developmental cycle, associated with chronic infections in both humans and animals, include the generation of non-replicative, morphologically aberrant bodies which are distinct from normal propagating reticulate bodies. Previous studies have correlated these morphological and metabolic changes with differential expression of diverse functional subsets of chlamydial genes. To further investigate these correlations, we compared mRNA expression of predicted chlamydial signal transduction genes between normal Chlamydophila pneumoniae A-03 infections in HEp-2 cells and those treated with gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) by using real-time RT-PCR. Inspection of the Cp. pneumoniae genome revealed at least 39 candidate signal transduction genes, of which 30 were differentially expressed in Cp. pneumoniae mediated persistence. Functional sub-groups of differentially expressed signal transduction genes include chlamydial GTPases (hflX, ychF, yhbZ and yphC), linked to bacterial cellular processes such as cell cycle control and ribosome assembly and stability. Other up-regulated signal transduction genes sharing similarity to bacterial stress response genes (htrA, surE, lytB and hrcA) were also detected. The transcriptional changes observed for the majority of signal transduction genes appear to be unique for Cp. pneumoniae, as similar changes were not observed in recent whole genomic analysis of C. trachomatis IFN-gamma mediated persistence. These results suggest that chlamydial signal transduction genes play potentially important roles in the establishment and maintenance of Cp. pneumoniae persistence, likely as part of the IFN-gamma response stimulon as described for C. trachomatis, but with considerable differences in the transcriptional profile.

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