Chlamydia trachomatis is an obligate, intracellular bacterium which is known to cause multiple human infections including nongonococcal urethritis (serovars D-K), lymphogranuloma venereum (serovars L1, L2, L3) and trachoma (serovars A-C). The infectious form of the bacterium, called the elementary body (EB), harbors a type III secreted effector known as Tarp (translocated actin recruiting phosphoprotein) which is a candidate virulence factor and is hypothesized to play a role in C. trachomatis' ability to invade and grow within epithelial cells in a human host. C. trachomatis L2 Tarp harbors five unique protein domains which include the Phosphorylation Domain, the Proline Rich Domain, the Actin Binding Domain, and two F-Actin Binding Domains. Tarp has been biochemically characterized in vitro, but it has yet to be characterized in vivo due to a lack of genetic tools in C. trachomatis. Through the recent generation of a chlamydial transformation system, we have created transformants which express epitope tagged wild type or mutant Tarp effectors. In this thesis, C. trachomatis transformants expressing Tarp lacking one of the five biochemically defined protein domains were used to examine both bacterial invasion and bacterial development within mammalian host cells. Our results demonstrate that those EBs which harbor mutant Tarp missing either its Phosphorylation Domain or its Actin Binding Domain were less capable of host cell invasion. However, these transformants, once internalized, were capable of normal development when compared to wild type C. trachomatis or C. trachomatis harboring an epitope tagged wild type Tarp effector. These results suggest that transformant expressed Tarp lacking the Phosphorylation Domain or Actin Binding Domain may be acting as a dominant-negative effector protein. Ultimately, these results support the hypothesis that Tarp is a virulence factor for Chlamydia trachomatis. Furthermore, this data indicates that through the manipulation of the Tarp effector, C. trachomatis pathogenesis may be attenuated.
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Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Medicine
Molecular Biology and Microbiology
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Parrett, Christopher, "Chlamydia trachomatis Transformants Show a Significant Reduction in Rates of Invasion upon Removal of Key Tarp Domains" (2016). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 4993.