Chlamydia trachomatis Infection Leads to Defined Alterations to the Lipid Droplet Proteome in Epithelial Cells.


The obligate intracellular bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis is a major human pathogen and a main cause of genital and ocular diseases. During its intracellular cycle, C. trachomatis replicates inside a membrane-bound vacuole termed an "inclusion". Acquisition of lipids (and other nutrients) from the host cell is a critical step in chlamydial replication. Lipid droplets (LD) are ubiquitous, ER-derived neutral lipid-rich storage organelles surrounded by a phospholipids monolayer and associated proteins. Previous studies have shown that LDs accumulate at the periphery of, and eventually translocate into, the chlamydial inclusion. These observations point out to Chlamydia-mediated manipulation of LDs in infected cells, which may impact the function and thereby the protein composition of these organelles. By means of a label-free quantitative mass spectrometry approach we found that the LD proteome is modified in the context of C. trachomatis infection. We determined that LDs isolated from C. trachomatis-infected cells were enriched in proteins related to lipid metabolism, biosynthesis and LD-specific functions. Interestingly, consistent with the observation that LDs intimately associate with the inclusion, a subset of inclusion membrane proteins co-purified with LD protein extracts. Finally, genetic ablation of LDs negatively affected generation of C. trachomatis infectious progeny, consistent with a role for LD biogenesis in optimal chlamydial growth.





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Publication Info

Saka, Hector Alex, J Will Thompson, Yi-Shan Chen, Laura G Dubois, Joel T Haas, Arthur Moseley and Raphael H Valdivia (2015). Chlamydia trachomatis Infection Leads to Defined Alterations to the Lipid Droplet Proteome in Epithelial Cells. PLoS One, 10(4). p. e0124630. 10.1371/journal.pone.0124630 Retrieved from

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J. Will Thompson

Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Cancer Biology

Dr. Thompson's research focuses on the development and deployment of proteomics and metabolomics mass spectrometry techniques for the analysis of biological systems. He served as the Assistant Director of the Proteomics and Metabolomics Shared Resource in the Duke School of Medicine from 2007-2021. He currently maintains collaborations in metabolomics and proteomics research at Duke, and develops new tools for chemical analysis as a Principal Scientist at 908 Devices in Carrboro, NC.


Raphael H. Valdivia

Nanaline H. Duke Distinguished Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

My laboratory is interested in microbes that influence human health, both in the context of host-pathogen and host-commensal interactions. For many pathogens, and certainly for most commensal microbes, we have an incomplete molecular understanding of how host and microbial factors contribute to health and disease. My research group focuses on two experimental systems:

Chlamydia trachomatis infections are responsible for the bulk of sexually transmitted bacterial diseases and are the leading cause of infectious blindness (trachoma) in the world. Chlamydia  resides within a membrane bound compartment (“inclusion”). From this location, the pathogen manipulates the cytoskeleton, inhibits lysosomal recognition of the inclusion, activates signaling pathways, re-routes lipid transport, and prevents the onset of programmed cell death. Our laboratory focuses on identifying and characterizing the bacterial factors that are secreted into the host cell cytoplasm to manipulate eukaryotic cellular functions. We use a combination of cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, genomics, proteomics and molecular biology to determining the function of virulence factors that reveal novel facets of the host-pathogen interaction. Our goal is to understand how these obligate intracellular bacterial pathogens manipulate host cellular functions to replicate, disseminate and cause disease, and in the process develop strategies to ameliorate the damage caused by these infections to the female reproductive organs.

Akkermansia muciniphila is prevalent member of the gut microbiota that proliferates in the mucus layers of our lower gastrointestinal tract and contribute to nutrient homeostasis and human immunological health. My research group developed genetic tools to characterize these microbes to define the mechanisms used to colonize the human gut and identify the molecular and cellular pathways that underscore Akkermansia's impact on immune homeostasis.  In the process, we seek to engineer strains of Akkermansia that enhance their probiotic potential.

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