Facilitated By

San Antonio Medical Foundation


UT Health San Antonio

The UT Health San Antonio, with missions of teaching, research and healing, is one of the country’s leading health sciences universities.

Principal Investigator(s)
Zhong, Guangming
Funded by
Research Start Date

In vitro passages to accumulate mutations in non-essential genes for identifying in vivo virulence factorsAbstractInfertility due to tubal fibrosis/hydrosalpinx is a significant social and healthcare burden of sexuallytransmitted infection with Chlamydia trachomatis (CT). However, the pathogenic mechanisms remainunknown. So far, only a few virulence genes have been identified from Chlamydia muridarum (CM), a modelpathogen for investigating the pathogenesis of CT due to the CM ability to induce hydrosalpinx in mice.Although successful transformation of Chlamydia has made genetic dissection of chlamydial virulencepossible, genome-wide identification of virulence genes still relies on chemical-induced mutagenesis.Although these efforts have revealed the roles of chlamydial genes in promoting chlamydial infectivity, nohydrosalpinx-causing genes have been identified due to the difficulty in identifying isogenic clones becauseof high mutation frequencies and the failure of CT serovar L2 (used in most mutagenesis studies) to inducehydrosalpinx. Alternatively, in vitro passage has been successful in selecting chlamydial mutants resistantto chemicals. However, passaging based on the Pasteurian selection principle for accumulating mutationsin non-essential genes in the absence of any selection pressure failed to induce any significant mutations inchlamydial genomes. We then developed a modified Pasteurian selection scheme by providing assistanceto attachment alternately during passages of CM to maximize the recovery of mutants. After a total of 40passages, we created 40 libraries, designated as G1 (after passage 1) to G40, in which non-essential genemutations were accumulated as revealed by using a Bio-profiler software (patent application# 62/095,104)to align NGS reads generated from mixed templates against a reference genome sequence. Wehypothesize that these mutated non-essential genes may code for virulence factors in vivo. As a proof ofprinciple, we have isolated 4 isogenic clones, which led us to identify TC0237 and TC0668 as two novelvirulence factors. We further hypothesize that TC0237 enhances CM pathogenicity by promoting ascendinginfection while TC0668 increases CM pathogenicity by activating hydrosalpinx-causing responses. We willuse the already identified and to be identified clones from the available libraries to test these hypotheses in3 specific aims: Continuing to isolate attenuated CM clones from libraries generated using a modifiedPasteurian selection scheme (Aim I), using the attenuated CM clones to investigate the mechanisms ofchlamydial ascension (Aim II) and to identify hydrosalpinx-causing mechanisms (Aim III). Accomplishing theproposed studies will significantly advance our understanding of chlamydial pathogenic mechanisms

Collaborative Project
Basic Research
Infectious Disease