Distinct roles of chromosome- versus plasmid-encoded genital tract virulence factors in promoting chlamydia muridarum colonization in the gastrointestinal tract

John J. Koprivsek, Tianyuan Zhang, Qi Tian, Ying He, Hong Xu, Zhenming Xu, Guangming Zhong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


The genital pathogen Chlamydia is known to colonize the gastrointestinal tract. Orally delivered Chlamydia muridarum can reach the colon and maintain a long-lasting colonization there. However, C. muridarum with mutations in chromosomal genes tc0237 and tc0668 (designated a chromosomal mutant) or deficient in plasmid-encoded pGP3 (designated a plasmid mutant) is unable to do so. We now report that the chromosomal mutant is still able to reach the colon while the plasmid mutant fails to do so following an oral delivery, suggesting that lack of colon colonization by different mutants may involve distinct mechanisms. Consistently, a direct intracolonic delivery selectively restored the ability of the plasmid mutant, but not the chromosomal mutant, to colonize the colon. The chromosomal mutant was rescued only in the colon of mice deficient in gamma interferon (IFN-γ). Thus, the chromosomal mutant's deficiency in colonizing colonic mucosal tissue is likely due to its increased susceptibility to IFN-γ-mediated immunity. Furthermore, IFN-γ deficiency was sufficient for rescuing colon colonization of an orally delivered chromosomal mutant but not plasmid mutant while mice deficient in gastric acid production rescued the plasmid mutant but not the chromosomal mutant. Both mutants are attenuated in inducing genital tract pathology. Thus, we propose that chlamydial chromosomal-gene-encoded genital tract virulence factors may be essential for Chlamydia to maintain long-lasting colonization in the colon while the plasmid may enable Chlamydia to reach the colon by promoting evasion of gastric barriers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00265
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019



  • Chlamydia muridarum
  • Chromosomal genes tc0237 and tc0668
  • IFN-γ susceptibility
  • Intestinal colonization
  • Plasmid gene pgp3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases

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