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BMC Genomics. 2019 Feb 18;20(1):143. doi: 10.1186/s12864-019-5495-6.

A unique insight into the MiRNA profile during genital chlamydial infection.

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Department of Microbiology, Biochemistry & Immunology, Morehouse School of Medicine, 720 Westview Drive, S.W, Atlanta, GA, 30310, USA.
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA, 30333, USA.
Institute of Bioinformatics, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, 30602, USA.
Department of Physical Sciences, Georgia State University, Covington, GA, 30014, USA.
Department of Physiology, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, 30310, USA.
Department of Pathology, University of Georgia, College of Veterinary Medicine, Athens, GA, 30602, USA.
Department of Microbiology, Biochemistry & Immunology, Morehouse School of Medicine, 720 Westview Drive, S.W, Atlanta, GA, 30310, USA.
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA, 30333, USA.



Genital C. trachomatis infection may cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) that can lead to tubal factor infertility (TFI). Understanding the pathogenesis of chlamydial complications including the pathophysiological processes within the female host genital tract is important in preventing adverse pathology. MicroRNAs regulate several pathophysiological processes of infectious and non-infectious etiologies. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that the miRNA profile of single and repeat genital chlamydial infections will be different and that these differences will be time dependent. Thus, we analyzed and compared differentially expressed mice genital tract miRNAs after single and repeat chlamydia infections using a C. muridarum mouse model. Mice were sacrificed and their genital tract tissues were collected at 1, 2, 4, and 8 weeks after a single and repeat chlamydia infections. Histopathology, and miRNA sequencing were performed.


Histopathology presentation showed that the oviduct and uterus of reinfected mice were more inflamed, distended and dilated compared to mice infected once. The miRNAs expression profile was different in the reproductive tissues after a reinfection, with a greater number of miRNAs expressed after reinfection. Also, the number of miRNAs expressed each week after chlamydia infection and reinfection varied, with weeks eight and one having the highest number of differentially expressed miRNAs for chlamydia infection and reinfection respectively. Ten miRNAs; mmu-miR-378b, mmu-miR-204-5p, mmu-miR-151-5p, mmu-miR-142-3p, mmu-miR-128-3p, mmu-miR-335-3p, mmu-miR-195a-3p, mmu-miR-142-5p, mmu-miR-106a-5p and mmu-miR-92a-3p were common in both primary chlamydia infection and reinfection. Pathway analysis showed that, amongst other functions, the differentially regulated miRNAs control pathways involved in cellular and tissue development, disease conditions and toxicity.


This study provides insights into the changes in miRNA expression over time after chlamydia infection and reinfection, as well as the pathways they regulate to determine pathological outcomes. The miRNAs networks generated in our study shows that there are differences in the focus molecules involved in significant biological functions in chlamydia infection and reinfection, implying that chlamydial pathogenesis occurs differently for each type of infection and that this could be important when determining treatments regime and disease outcome. The study underscores the crucial role of host factors in chlamydia pathogenesis.


Chlamydia infection; Chlamydial pathogenesis; Differential expression; TFI; miRNAs

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