Chlamydia remodels human cells for its own nefarious purposes

When Chlamydia trachomatis, the bacterium that causes one of the most common sexually transmitted infections worldwide, infects a human cell, it hijacks parts of the host to build protective layers around itself. Inside this makeshift fortress, the bug grows and reproduces, eventually bursting out in search of a new target and killing the host cell. While scientists have known for years that Chlamydia protects itself in this way, they were missing the mechanics until now. Researchers from Dr. Raphael Valdivia’s lab in the Duke Microbiome Center have shown that one Chlamydia protein, known as ChlaDUB1, is capable of manipulating human cells in two different ways, at least one of which appears to be essential for thriving inside its host. The findings which appeared recently in Nature Microbiology could pave the way for treating Chlamydia with fewer antibiotics.

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