Free Access
Vet. Res.
Volume 40, Number 5, September-October 2009
Number of page(s) 12
Published online 21 May 2009
How to cite this article Vet. Res. (2009) 40:47
How to cite this article: Vet. Res. (2009) 40:47
DOI: 10.1051/vetres/2009030

Transcriptional analysis of in vitro expression patterns of Chlamydophila abortus polymorphic outer membrane proteins during the chlamydial developmental cycle

Nicholas Wheelhouse, Kevin Aitchison, Lucy Spalding, Morag Livingstone and David Longbottom

Moredun Research Institute, Pentlands Science Park, Bush Loan, Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH26 0PZ, United Kingdom

Received 17 March 2009; accepted 19 May 2009; published online 21 May 2009

Abstract - Chlamydophila abortus is the aetiological agent of ovine enzootic abortion. Sequencing, annotation and comparative analysis of the genome of C. abortus strain S26/3 has revealed variation in the loci encoding the polymorphic membrane proteins (Pmps). These Pmps resemble autotransporter proteins of the type V secretion system, suggesting an important role in chlamydial pathogenesis. The purpose of this study was to characterise the transcriptional expression patterns of this family during the developmental cycle of C. abortus. McCoy cells were infected with C. abortus and analysed for pmp mRNA expression over a 72 h period. Few pmp transcripts were detected in the early stages of the developmental cycle. Peak expression occurred at 48 h post-infection (p.i.) other than for pmp5E, where it was observed at 24 h p.i. Overall, expression of pmps 5E, 18D and 10G were found to be 40 to 100-fold higher than the lowest expressing pmps (6H, 1 3G and 15G) at 24 h p.i., while pmps 18D and 17G were 14 to 16-fold higher than the lowest (11G, 14G and 15G) at 48 h. Levels of expression for all the other pmp genes were below one copy per genome at any time point. The expression of all the pmps reduced to near base-line levels by 60 h p.i. These results demonstrate that pmp expression in C. abortus is mid to late cycle, consistent with conversion of the reticulate body to the elementary body. The low level of pmp transcription may be indicative of heterogeneity in expression, suggesting a possible role for some of the Pmps in antigenic variation and chlamydial pathogenesis.

Key words: Chlamydophila abortus / pmp / gene expression / antigenic variation

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© INRA, EDP Sciences 2009