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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Nov 27;109(48):19781-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1212831109. Epub 2012 Nov 5.

Developmental stage-specific metabolic and transcriptional activity of Chlamydia trachomatis in an axenic medium.

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Host-Parasite Interactions Section, Laboratory of Intracellular Parasites, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Hamilton, MT 59840, USA.

Erratum in

  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Jan 20;110(5):1970.


Chlamydia trachomatis is among the most clinically significant human pathogens, yet their obligate intracellular nature places severe restrictions upon research. Chlamydiae undergo a biphasic developmental cycle characterized by an infectious cell type known as an elementary body (EB) and an intracellular replicative form called a reticulate body (RB). EBs have historically been described as metabolically dormant. A cell-free (axenic) culture system was developed, which showed high levels of metabolic and biosynthetic activity from both EBs and RBs, although the requirements differed for each. EBs preferentially used glucose-6-phosphate as an energy source, whereas RBs required ATP. Both developmental forms showed increased activity when incubated under microaerobic conditions. Incorporation of isotopically labeled amino acids into proteins from both developmental forms indicated unique expression profiles, which were confirmed by genome-wide transcriptional analysis. The described axenic culture system will greatly enhance biochemical and physiological analyses of chlamydiae.

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