Chlamydial plasmids and bacteriophages.
AbstractChlamydia are absolute pathogens of humans and animals; despite being rather well recognised, they are still open for discovery. One such discovery is the occurrence of extrachromosomal carriers of genetic information. In prokaryotes, such carriers include plasmids and bacteriophages, which are present only among some Chlamydia species. Plasmids were found exclusively in Chlamydia (C.) trachomatis, C. psittaci, C. pneumoniae, C. suis, C. felis, C. muridarum and C. caviae. In prokaryotic organisms, plasmids usually code for genes that facilitate survival of the bacteria in the environment (although they are not essential). In chlamydia, their role has not been definitely recognised, apart from the fact that they participate in the synthesis of glycogen and encode proteins responsible for their virulence. Furthermore, in C. suis it was evidenced that the plasmid is integrated in a genomic island and contains the tetracycline-resistance gene. Bacteriophages specific for chlamydia (chlamydiaphages) were detected only in six species: C. psittaci, C. abortus, C. felis, C. caviae C. pecorum and C. pneumoniae. These chlamydiaphages cause inhibition of the developmental cycle, and delay transformation of reticulate bodies (RBs) into elementary bodies (EBs), thus reducing the possibility of infecting other cells in time. Plasmids and bacteriophages can be used in the diagnostics of chlamydioses; although especially in the case of plasmids, they are already used for detection of chlamydial infections. In addition, bacteriophages could be used as therapeutic agents to replace antibiotics, potentially addressing the problem of increasing antibiotic-resistance among chlamydia.
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