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Trends Microbiol. 2009 Oct;17(10):467-74. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2009.07.007. Epub 2009 Sep 16.

Killing me softly: chlamydial use of proteolysis for evading host defenses.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA.


Chlamydial infections in humans cause severe health problems, including blinding trachoma and sexually transmitted diseases. Although the involved pathogenic mechanisms remain unclear, the ability to replicate and maintain long-term residence in the infected cells seems to significantly contribute to chlamydial pathogenicity. These obligate intracellular parasites maintain a delicate balance between exploiting and protecting their host: they occupy intracellular space and acquire nutrients from the infected cells, but at the same time they have to maintain the integrity of the host cells for the completion of their intracellular growth. For this purpose, chlamydiae hijack certain signaling pathways that prevent the host cells from undergoing apoptosis induced by intracellular stress and protect the infected cells from recognition and attack by host defenses. Interestingly, one of the strategies that chlamydiae use for these purposes is the induction of limited proteolysis of host proteins, which is the main focus of this article.

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