Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Chlamydia: How bacteria take over control

28.03.2017

To survive in human cells, chlamydiae have a lot of tricks in store. Researchers of the University of Würzburg have now discovered that the bacterial pathogens also manipulate the cells' energy suppliers in the process.

When Chlamydia trachomatis infects a human cell, it faces a huge challenge: It must prevent the cell from triggering programmed cell death to prevent the bacteria from replicating and spreading throughout the body.


Zwei Zellen, links nach einer Infektion mit Chlamydia-Bakterien, rechts ohne. Obwohl beide Zellen mit einer Substanz behandelt wurden, die das mitochondriale Netzwerk zerstört, bleibt das Netzwerk in der infizierten Zelle intakt. (Abbildung: Suvagata Roy Chowdhury)

Since numerous metabolic processes are either missing or fragmented in the pathogen, it is reliant on the host cell to supply the vital nutrients on a permanent basis.

Research projects worldwide focus on how the bacteria manage to keep the cell alive and working for it. Scientists from the University of Würzburg have now uncovered a new detail of these processes.

They identified a mechanism with which Chlamydia trachomatis influences the mitochondria, the cells' power plants, thereby preventing the cells from committing suicide. In the scientific journal Journal of Cell Biology, the scientists present the results of their work.

The role of mitochondria

The study was led by Professor Thomas Rudel, who holds the Chair of Microbiology at the University of Würzburg. Already three years ago, Rudel and his team showed that chlamydiae disable the tumour suppressor protein p53 in infected cells and initiate a process which repairs DNA damages resulting from chlamydia infection. By blocking p53, the bacteria prevent the cell from knocking itself out in the worst case, thereby winning time for replication.

In their new study, the microbiologists took a closer look at the mitochondria. "Mitochondria play a crucial role in energy supply and programmed cell death," Thomas Rudel explains. He sees strong evidence that changes in their architecture and dynamics are closely related to the cells' general metabolic processes.

Focus on small RNA molecules

What impact does a chlamydia infection have on mitochondria? To answer this question, Rudel's team scrutinized another actor in the goings-on inside cells: the so-called miRNAs or microRNAs. These small RNA molecules control vital processes inside cells by regulating complex networks of genes.

High-throughput sequencing allowed Rudel and his team to study in depth how a chlamydia infection impacts the miRNA expression of the infected cell. The most striking finding is a greatly increased production of the miR-30c-5p microRNA. A high concentration of these tiny RNA molecules is beneficial for the bacteria: "They cause the tumour suppressor protein to be downregulated permanently," Thomas Rudel explains.

In return, blocking miR-30c causes the chlamydia trouble, because the cell increases its production of Drp1, a protein that fragments the mitochondria in cells under stress. As its concentration inside cells increases, so does the stress-related mitochondrial division rate while the infected cell's chances of surviving the bacterial attack improve. This is because chlamydial growth is inhibited significantly by the fragmented mitochondria that supply less energy and starve the pathogens.

Chlamydia: Resourceful invaders

Bacteria of the strain Chlamydia trachomatis are responsible for a number of serious diseases in humans. Chlamydia infections are the most frequent sexually transmitted diseases worldwide. Up to ten percent of the population worldwide are estimated to be infected with the bacteria depending on the age group.

Untreated, chlamydia infection can cause fallopian tubes blockage in women which can result in tubal pregnancy or infertility. Newer findings even suggest that chlamydia infections promote ovarian cancer. Men can become infertile after an infection.

Another consequence of chlamydia infection occurs especially in tropical countries: The bacteria infect the eyes and may cause blindness. It is estimated that around 150 million people are affected by the disease. Other strains may trigger pneumonia and are suspected to cause arteriosclerosis and Alzheimer's.

Chlamydia preserves the mitochondrial network necessary for replication via microRNA-dependent inhibition of fission. Suvagata Roy Chowdhury, Anastasija Reimer, Malvika Sharan, Vera Kozjak Pavlovic, Ana Eulalio, Bhupesh K. Prusty, Martin Fraunholz, Karthika Karunakaran, and Thomas Rudel The Journal of Cell Biology. https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.201608063

Contact

Prof. Dr. Thomas Rudel, Department of Microbiology, T +49 931 31-84401, Thomas.Rudel@biozentrum.uni-wuerzburg.de

Gunnar Bartsch | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Newly designed molecule binds nitrogen
23.02.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Atomic Design by Water
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>