Chlamydiae belong to the most successful intracellular bacterial pathogens. They display a complex developmental cycle and an extremely broad host spectrum ranging from vertebrates to protozoa. The family Chlamydiaceae comprises exclusively well-known pathogens of humans and animals, whereas the members of its sister group, the Parachlamydiaceae, naturally occur as symbionts of free-living amoebae. Comparative analysis of these two groups provides valuable insights into chlamydial evolution and mechanisms for microbe-host interaction. Based on the complete genome sequence of the Acanthamoeba spp. symbiont Protochlamydia amoebophila UWE25, we performed the first detailed proteome analysis of the infectious stage of a symbiotic chlamydia. A 2-D reference proteome map was established and the analysis was extensively complemented by shotgun proteomics. In total, 472 proteins were identified, which represent 23.2% of all encoded proteins. These cover a wide range of functional categories, including typical house-keeping proteins, but also putative virulence-associated proteins. A number of proteins that are not encoded in genomes of Chlamydiaceae were observed and the expression of 162 proteins classified as hypothetical or unknown proteins could be demonstrated. Our findings indicate that P. amoebophila exploits its additional genetic repertoire (compared with the Chlamydiaceae), and that its elementary bodies are remarkably well equipped with proteins involved in transcription, translation, and energy generation.
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