Chlamydia trachomatis is a human pathogen that is the leading cause of bacterial sexually transmitted disease worldwide with more than 90 million new cases of genital infections occurring each year. About 70 percent of women infected with Chlamydia remain asymptomatic and these bacteria can establish chronic infections for months, or even years. Even when it causes no symptoms, Chlamydia can damage a woman’s reproductive organs.
Chlamydia (green) sheltered inside a human host cell (red). © MPI for Infection Biology/V. Brinkmann
In addition, standard antibacterial drugs are proving increasingly ineffective in complete eradication, as Chlamydia goes in to persistent mode, leading to asymptomatic chronic infection. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin (MPIIB) now show that Chlamydia infections can cause mutations in the host DNA by overriding the normal mechanisms by which their host prevents unregulated growth of genetically damaged cells that pave the way for the development of cancer.Owing to their intracellular lifestyle Chlamydia depend on various host cell functions for their survival. Chlamydia manipulates the host cell mechanism to favour its growth, however the consequences of such alterations on the fate of host cells remains enigmatic. Even more worrying is mounting epidemiological evidence which links Chlamydia infections with the development of cervical and ovarian cancer. Cindrilla Chumduri, Rajendra Kumar Gurumurthy and Thomas F. Meyer, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, have now discovered that Chlamydia induces long-lasting effects on the genome and epi-genome of their host cells. Such changes are increasingly implicated in the development of a range of cancers.
ContactDr. Rike Zietlow
Cell Host & Microbe 13, 746–758
Dr. Rike Zietlow | Max-Planck-Institute
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