Dendrimer-enabled modulation of gene expression in Chlamydia trachomatis

Mol Pharm. 2012 Mar 5;9(3):413-21. doi: 10.1021/mp200512f. Epub 2012 Jan 30.


The obligate intracellular bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis is an important human pathogen. The genome of this organism is small but encodes many genes of currently unknown function that are thought to be involved in virulence. Lack of a system for genetic manipulation has been a key challenge to advancing the understanding of molecular genetics underlying virulence for this bacterium. We developed a dendrimer-enabled system for transformation of C. trachomatis, and used it to demonstrate the efficient and highly specific knockdown of transcript levels from targeted genes. Antisense, sense, and other control oligonucleotides targeting two sets of duplicated genes on the chlamydial chromosome were designed, commercially synthesized, and complexed with generation-4 polyamidoamine (PAMAM) dendrimers. The complexes were given to HEp-2 cell cultures infected for 16 h with C. trachomatis serovar K and then removed three hours later. Infected cultures were harvested 6 h after pulsing, and DNA and RNA/cDNA were prepared for assessment of transcript levels compared to those for the same genes in infected cultures, without dendrimer complexation. In all cases, the targeted gene complexed to dendrimer, but not its duplicate, showed up to 90% transcript attenuation. The duration of attenuation can be extended by repeated pulsing, and in some cases transcript levels from multiple genes can be attenuated in the same organism. This system will allow study of chlamydial gene function in pathogenesis, leading to more effective therapies to treat Chlamydia-induced diseases in a targeted manner.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chlamydia trachomatis / genetics*
  • Dendrimers / chemistry*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Oligoribonucleotides, Antisense / genetics
  • Transformation, Genetic / genetics


  • Dendrimers
  • Oligoribonucleotides, Antisense
  • PAMAM Starburst