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Disulfide Bonding within Components of the Chlamydia Type III Secretion Apparatus Correlates with Development

Betts-Hampikian, H. J., Fields, K. A.
Journal of bacteriology 2011 v.193 no.24 pp. 6950-6959
disulfide bonds, secretion, polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, epithelial cells, Chlamydia, bacteriology, type III secretion system, cysteine, vegetative growth
Chlamydia spp. exhibit a unique biphasic developmental cycle whereby infectious elementary bodies (EBs) invade host epithelial cells and differentiate into noninfectious, metabolically active reticulate bodies (RBs). EBs posses a unique outer envelope where rigidity is achieved by disulfide bonding among cysteine-rich envelope-associated proteins. Conversely, these disulfide bonds become reduced in RBs to accommodate vegetative growth, thereby linking the redox status of cysteine-rich envelope proteins with progression of the developmental cycle. We investigated the potential role of disulfide bonding within the chlamydial type III secretion system (T3SS), since activity of this system is also closely linked to development. We focused on structural components of the T3S apparatus that contain an unusually high number of cysteine residues compared to orthologs in other secretion systems. Nonreducing SDS-PAGE revealed that EB-localized apparatus proteins such as CdsF, CdsD, and CdsC form higher-order complexes mediated by disulfide bonding. The most dramatic alterations were detected for the needle protein CdsF. Significantly, disulfide bonding patterns shifted during differentiation of developmental forms and were completely reduced in RBs. Furthermore, at later time points during infection following RB to EB conversion, we found that CdsF is reoxidized into higher-order complexes. Overall, we conclude that the redox status of specific T3SS apparatus proteins is intimately linked to the developmental cycle and constitutes a newly appreciated aspect of functionally significant alterations within proteins of the chlamydial envelope.