CPn0572, the C. pneumoniae ortholog of TarP, reorganizes the actin cytoskeleton via a newly identified F-actin binding domain and recruitment of vinculin

PLoS One. 2019 Jan 10;14(1):e0210403. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0210403. eCollection 2019.


Chlamydia pneumoniae is one of the two major species of the Chlamydiaceae family that have a profound effect on human health. C. pneumoniae is linked to a number of severe acute and chronic diseases of the upper and lower respiratory tract including pneumonia, asthma, bronchitis and infection by the pathogen might play a role in lung cancer. Following adhesion, Chlamydiae secrete effector proteins into the host cytoplasm that modulate the actin cytoskeleton facilitating internalization and infection. Members of the conserved TarP protein family comprise such effector proteins that polymerize actin, and in the case of the C. trachomatis TarP protein, has been shown to play a critical role in pathogenesis. In a previous study, we demonstrated that, upon bacterial invasion, the C. pneumoniae TarP family member CPn0572 is secreted into the host cytoplasm and recruits and associates with actin via an actin-binding domain conserved in TarP proteins. We have now extended our analysis of CPn0572 and found that the CPn0572 actin binding and modulating capability is more complex. With the help of the fission yeast system, a second actin modulating domain was identified independent of the actin binding domain. Microscopic analysis of HEp-2 cells expressing different CPn0572 deletion variants mapped this domain to the C-terminal part of the protein as CPn0572536-755 binds F-actin in vitro and colocalizes with aberrantly thickened actin cables in vivo. Finally, microscopic and bioinformatic analysis revealed the existence of a vinculin binding sequence in CPn0572. Our findings contribute to the understanding of the function of the TarP family and underscore the existence of several actin binding domains and a vinculin binding site for host actin modulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology*
  • Binding Sites
  • Chlamydophila pneumoniae / genetics
  • Chlamydophila pneumoniae / metabolism
  • Chlamydophila pneumoniae / pathogenicity*
  • Computational Biology
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Protein Domains
  • Sequence Analysis, Protein
  • Vinculin / metabolism*


  • Actins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Vinculin

Grants and funding

This study was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft research grants FL 168/5-1 (UF) and HE 1383/13-1 (JHH) http://www.dfg.de. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.