Chlamydia Trachomatis Interrupts an Exocytic Pathway to Acquire Endogenously Synthesized Sphingomyelin in Transit From the Golgi Apparatus to the Plasma Membrane

EMBO J. 1996 Mar 1;15(5):964-77.


Chlamydia trachomatis acquires C6-NBD-sphingomyelin endogenously synthesized from C6-NBD-ceramide and transported to the vesicle (inclusion) in which they multiply. Here we explore the mechanisms of this unusual trafficking and further characterize the association of the chlamydial inclusion with the Golgi apparatus. Endocytosed chlamydiae are trafficked to the Golgi region and begin to acquire sphingolipids from the host within a few hours following infection. The transport of NBD-sphingolipid to the inclusion is energy- and temperature-dependent with the characteristics of an active, vesicle-mediated process. Photo-oxidation of C5-DMB-ceramide, in the presence of diaminobenzidine, identified DMB-lipids in vesicles in the process of fusing to the chlamydial inclusion membrane. C6-NBD-sphingomyelin incorporated into the plasma membrane is not trafficked to the inclusion to a significant degree, suggesting the pathway for sphingomyelin trafficking is direct from the Golgi apparatus to the chlamydial inclusion. Lectins and antibody probes for Golgi-specific glycoproteins demonstrate the close association of the chlamydial inclusion with the Golgi apparatus but do not detect these markers in the inclusion membrane. Collectively, the data are consistent with a model in which C.trachomatis inhabits a unique vesicle which interrupts an exocytic pathway to intercept host sphingolipids in transit from the Golgi apparatus to the plasma membrane.

MeSH terms

  • 4-Chloro-7-nitrobenzofurazan / analogs & derivatives*
  • 4-Chloro-7-nitrobenzofurazan / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Biological Transport, Active
  • Brefeldin A
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Ceramides / metabolism
  • Chlamydia Infections / metabolism
  • Chlamydia Infections / microbiology
  • Chlamydia Infections / pathology
  • Chlamydia trachomatis / drug effects
  • Chlamydia trachomatis / pathogenicity*
  • Chlamydia trachomatis / physiology
  • Cyclopentanes / pharmacology
  • Exocytosis
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism
  • Golgi Apparatus / metabolism
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Inclusion Bodies / drug effects
  • Inclusion Bodies / metabolism
  • Inclusion Bodies / microbiology
  • Macrolides
  • Membrane Fusion
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Models, Biological
  • Sphingomyelins / metabolism*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Ceramides
  • Cyclopentanes
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Macrolides
  • N-4-nitrobenzo-2-oxa-1,3-diazoleaminocaproyl sphingosylphosphorylcholine
  • Sphingomyelins
  • Brefeldin A
  • N-(7-(4-nitrobenzo-2-oxa-1,3-diazole))-6-aminocaproyl sphingosine
  • 4-Chloro-7-nitrobenzofurazan