Members of the order Chlamydiales comprise a group of exquisitely evolved parasites of eukaryotic hosts that extends from single- celled amoeba to mammals. The most notable are human pathogens and include the agent of oculogenital disease Chlamydia trachomatis, the respiratory pathogen C. pneumoniae, and the zoonotic agent C. psittaci. All of these species are obligate intracellular bacteria that develop within parasitophorous vesicles termed inclusions. This demanding lifestyle necessitates orchestrated entry into nonphagocytic cells, creation of a privileged intracellular niche, and subversion of potent host defenses. All chlamydial genomes contain the coding capacity for a nonflagellar type III secretion system, and this mechanism has arisen as an essential contributor to chlamydial virulence. The emergence of tractable approaches to the genetic manipulation of chlamydiae raises the possibility of explosive progress in understanding this important contributor to chlamydial pathogenesis. This minireview considers challenges and recent advances that have revealed how chlamydiae have maintained conserved aspects of T3S while exploiting diversification to yield a system that exerts a fundamental role in the unique biology of Chlamydia species.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases