Chlamydia trachomatis infection of humans is commonly a localized inflammation that can result in infertility, blindness, and perhaps arthritis. The pathogenic process(es) that cause these sequelae are thought to be immunological. A 57-kD protein that is common among Chlamydia elicits ocular inflammation when introduced onto the conjunctivae of guinea pigs or nonhuman primates previously sensitized by chlamydial infection. This protein is thought to mediate the immunopathology that follows chlamydial infection. To more thoroughly characterize this chlamydial component, we cloned its gene from a C. psittaci strain and identified a particular recombinant that produced the 57-kD polypeptide. The recombinant gene product was immunoreactive with a monospecific anti-57-kD serum, and elicited an ocular inflammation similar to that produced by the 57-kD antigen isolated from chlamydiae. Sequencing identified two ORFs that encode polypeptides of 11.2 and 58.1 kD and are co-transcribed. These two polypeptides show homology with Escherichia coli groE and Coxiella burnetii htp heat-shock proteins. Striking homology (greater than 50%) was found between the 57-kD protein and the HtpB, GroEL, 65-k Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Hsp60 proteins. Thus, the 57-kD chlamydial protein, previously implicated as mediating a deleterious immunologic response to chlamydial infections, is a stress-induced protein similar to those that occur universally in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms.

This content is only available as a PDF.