Chlamydia trachomatis, actin cytoskeleton, Arp2/3, TmeA, TmeB


Chlamydia trachomatis is an obligate intracellular bacterial pathogen responsible for human genital and ocular infections. Species of Chlamydia utilize a type-III secretion system to deliver bacterial effector proteins into the host cell in order to promote invasion and establish residence within a parasitophorous vacuole called an inclusion. The effector protein Tarp has been previously implicated as an important effector for promoting invasion during Chlamydia trachomatis infection by directing the formation of new actin filaments and bundles. Intriguingly, the significance of Tarp mediated cytoskeletal changes has not been fully explored in vivo. Host-pathogen interaction studies that replicate the human infection can be performed with mouse adapted Chlamydia, Chlamydia muridarum. However, the genetic tools to create gene deletions in C. muridarum have been lacking. Recently, our collaborators in the Fields and Wolf Laboratories developed a novel genetic tool for creating Tarp deletion mutants and complement clones in Chlamydia muridarum. Through the use of this tool, we were able to study the significance of Tarp in a murine infection model. In addition to Tarp, two other early effectors TmeA and TmeB are hypothesized to play a role in invasion, but a full account of their involvement remained unknown. In our studies, we were able to determine the roles of TmeA and TmeB in remodeling the host cytoskeleton. Using biochemical crosslinking assays, and actin polymerization studies, we discovered that TmeA has the ability to activate host protein N-Wasp in order to increase Arp2/3-dependent actin polymerization, while TmeB can in turn inhibit Arp2/3-directed actin polymerization via direct interactions with Arp2/3. Collectively, these are important findings as our studies have revealed how a collection of early chlamydial effectors work to modulate the host cytoskeleton to facilitate Chlamydia infections.

Completion Date




Committee Chair

Jewett, Travis


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Medicine


Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences

Degree Program

Biomedical Sciences








Release Date

December 2028

Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)

Campus Location

Health Sciences Campus

Restricted to the UCF community until December 2028; it will then be open access.