A novel mechanism has been identified in which Chlamydia trachomatis tricks host cells into taking up the bacteria. Researchers from University of California San Francisco, led by Joanne Engel, report their findings in the Open Access journal PLoS Pathogens on October 6th.
Dr. Engel and colleagues show that Chlamydia coat themselves with a growth factor made by the cells of the organism they are infecting. This disguise allows the bacteria to infect cells, much like a Trojan horse. Once inside, Chlamydia induces the host cell to churn out more of the growth factor. This production of excess growth factor enables more of bacteria to camouflage themselves and infect other cells creating a positive feedback loop which enhances bacterial infection and spread.
C. trachomatis is the leading cause of non-congenital blindness in developing countries and is the number one cause of sexually transmitted disease and non-congenital infertility in Western countries. Understanding the molecular mechanisms of the host-pathogen interactions of Chlamydia infections will lead assist in the development of novel therapeutics, diagnostics, and preventative strategies.