Send to

Choose Destination
Cell Microbiol. 2014 Oct;16(10):1457-72. doi: 10.1111/cmi.12310. Epub 2014 Jun 3.

Pathogen-host reorganization during Chlamydia invasion revealed by cryo-electron tomography.

Author information

Department of Crystallography, Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology, Birkbeck College, University of London, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HX, UK.


Invasion of host cells is a key early event during bacterial infection, but the underlying pathogen-host interactions are yet to be fully visualized in three-dimensional detail. We have captured snapshots of the early stages of bacterial-mediated endocytosis in situ by exploiting the small size of chlamydial elementary bodies (EBs) for whole-cell cryo-electron tomography. Chlamydiae are obligate intracellular bacteria that infect eukaryotic cells and cause sexually transmitted infections and trachoma, the leading cause of preventable blindness. We demonstrate that Chlamydia trachomatis LGV2 EBs are intrinsically polarized. One pole is characterized by a tubular inner membrane invagination, while the other exhibits asymmetric periplasmic expansion to accommodate an array of type III secretion systems (T3SSs). Strikingly, EBs orient with their T3SS-containing pole facing target cells, enabling the T3SSs to directly contact the cellular plasma membrane. This contact induces enveloping macropinosomes, actin-rich filopodia and phagocytic cups to zipper tightly around the internalizing bacteria. Once encapsulated into tight early vacuoles, EB polarity and the T3SSs are lost. Our findings reveal previously undescribed structural transitions in both pathogen and host during the initial steps of chlamydial invasion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center