The cryptic plasmid is more important for Chlamydia muridarum to colonize the mouse gastrointestinal tract than to infect the genital tract

Lili Shao, Jose Melero, Nu Zhang, Bernard Arulanandam, Joel Baseman, Quanzhong Liu, Guangming Zhong

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12 Scopus citations


Chlamydia has been detected in the gastrointestinal tracts of both animals and humans. However, the mechanism by which Chlamydia colonizes the gut remains unclear. Chlamydia muridarum is known to spread from the genital to the gastrointestinal tracts hematogenously. The C. muridarum plasmid is a key pathogenic determinant in the mouse upper genital tract although plasmid-deficient C. muridarum is still able to colonize the upper genital tract. We now report that plasmid-deficient C. muridarum exhibits significantly delayed/reduced spreading from the mouse genital to the gastrointestinal tracts. C. muridarum with or without plasmid maintained similar levels in the mouse circulatory system following intravenous inoculation but the hematogenous plasmid-deficient C. muridarum was significantly less efficient in colonizing the gastrointestinal tract. Consistently, plasmid-deficient C. muridarum failed to restore normal colonization in the gastrointestinal tract even after intragastric inoculation at a high dose. Thus, we have demonstrated a plasmid-dependent colonization of C. muridarum in the gastrointestinal tract, supporting the concept that C. muridarum may have acquired the plasmid for adaptation to the mouse gastrointestinal tract during oralfecal transmission. Since the plasmid is more important for C. muridarum to colonize the gastrointestinal tract than to infect the genital tract, the current study has laid a foundation for further defining the host pathways targeted by the plasmid-encoded or -regulated chlamydial effectors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0177691
JournalPLoS One
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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