Chlamydia pneumoniae is a bacterial obligate intracellular parasite with a developmental cycle common to all members of the genus Chlamydia. Like other chlamydiae, the developmental cycle of C. pneumoniae occurs entirely within a membrane-bound intracellular vacuole, termed an inclusion, that is non-fusogenic with endosomal or lysosomal compartments. To characterize the vesicular interactions of the C. pneumoniae inclusion, we used a fluorescent analogue of ceramide, (C6-NBD-Cer), that has previously been used to characterize the endogenous synthesis and transport of sphingolipids from the Golgi apparatus to Chlamydia trachomatis and Chlamydia psittaci inclusions. Sphingolipids are trafficked to C. pneumoniae inclusions in a time-, temperature- and energy-dependent manner with properties very similar to the delivery of sphingomyelin to C. trachomatis inclusions. These results indicate that interactions of the inclusion with a subset of sphingomyelin-containing exocytic vesicles is a property common to all species of chlamydiae.
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