Up-regulation of the JAK/STAT1 signal pathway during Chlamydia trachomatis infection

J Immunol. 2005 Jun 1;174(11):7186-93. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.174.11.7186.


Chlamydia trachomatis infection is the most common cause of sexually transmitted disease, leading to female pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. The disease process has been linked to cellular response to this bacterial pathogen. This obligate intracellular pathogen infects macrophages, fibroblast cells, and epithelial and endothelial cells. We show in this study that infection of cervical epithelial cells, the primary target of Chlamydia trachomatis, leads to up-regulation and activation of the JAK/STAT signal pathway. Specifically, Chlamydia trachomatis infection of HeLa 229 cells selectively induces STAT1, STAT2, and IFN-stimulated transcription factor 3gamma expression and promotes STAT1 activation. The up-regulation of STAT1 is dependent on bacterial replication, because treatment of infected cells with antibiotics prevents STAT1 up-regulation. By analysis of the gene transcriptional and cytokine expression profiles of host cells combined with the use of neutralizing Abs, we show that IFN-beta production is critical for STAT1 induction in epithelial cells. Finally, we demonstrate that the host up-regulates STAT1 to restrict bacterial infection, because Chlamydia propagates more efficiently in STAT1-null or STAT1 knockdown cells, whereas Chlamydia growth is inhibited in cells with up-regulated STAT1 expression. This study demonstrates that the infected cells up-regulate the host innate antimicrobial response to chlamydial infection. It also highlights the importance of cellular response by nonimmune cells in host clearance of chlamydial infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chlamydia Infections / enzymology
  • Chlamydia Infections / immunology
  • Chlamydia Infections / metabolism
  • Chlamydia Infections / prevention & control
  • Chlamydia trachomatis / growth & development
  • Chlamydia trachomatis / immunology*
  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / genetics
  • Janus Kinase 1
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis / methods
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / biosynthesis*
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / physiology
  • STAT1 Transcription Factor
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*
  • Trans-Activators / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Trans-Activators / biosynthesis*
  • Trans-Activators / genetics
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation / genetics
  • Up-Regulation / immunology*


  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • STAT1 Transcription Factor
  • STAT1 protein, human
  • Trans-Activators
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • JAK1 protein, human
  • Janus Kinase 1