Chlamydophila pecorum

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A Microbial Biorealm page on the genus Chlamydophila pecorum


Higher order taxa

Domain: Bacteria; Phylum: Chlamydiae; Class: Chlamydiales; Order:Chlamydiaceae; Family: Chlamydophila; Genus: Chlamydophila


NCBI: Taxonomy

Genus species: Chlamydophila pecorum

Description and significance

Describe the appearance, habitat, etc. of the organism, and why it is important enough to have its genome sequenced. Describe how and where it was isolated. Include a picture or two (with sources) if you can find them.

Genome structure

Some of the genomic sequence of the family of Chlamydiaceae, like C.caviae and C. pneumoniae have already been published, but the genome sequence of Chlamydophila pecorum is not yet known because there were significant barriers is using the genetic approach to understand its genome structure. One of the most significant barriers is its lack of a stable gene transfer system. However, recently a chlamydiaphage (Chp3) was detected in C.pecorum, a chlamydial species not previously known to carry bacteriophages, and the discovery of Chp3 has helped develop a genetic transfer system. Chp3 belongs to the microviridae, and members of this virus family are known for their circular, single stranded DNA genome and small T = 1 icosahedral capsids. The double stranded replicative form Chp3 DNA was purified from EB and used as a template to find the complete genome sequence. The genome of Chp3 is 4,554 base pairs and it encodes eight open reading frames that are organized in the same genome structure as other chlamydiphages.

The family of Chlamydiaceae genomes are fairly conserved. Thus the chromosome of C. pecorum is most likely circular and the size and content of the genome is yet to be found.

Cell structure and metabolism

Structurally Chlamydophila pecorum are very small cells, about 0.1 to 0.2 um in diameter. Its cell membrane contain both a lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and a cytoplasmic membrane bilayer, suggesting that it is a gram negative bacteria. However, its cell envelope differs from those of a typical gram negative bacter because it doesn’t have peptidoglycan. Though it lack a peptidoglycan bilayer, C.pecorum is still able to synthesize penicillin binding proteins and is sensitive to pencillin.

It also has a genus specific LPS that is present at all time in the developmental cycle. Its LPS reveal at least three antigenic domains, two of which are shared with the LPS of some free living gram negative organism and one of which is unique to the LPS of C.pecorum. Though C.pecorum does not have pili or flagella but does possess unique patches of hexagonally arrayed cylindrical projects on its outer membrane of EB. The cylinders extend all the way through the outer membrane and helps connect the interior of the cell with the external environment. It has major outer membrane proteins, which consist mainly of Beta sheets, and their function is biochemically similar to that of porin proteins. These channels are permeable to ATP and help the cell take advantage of nucleoside triphosphates.

C.pecorum is an ATP energy parasite because it obtains its ATP entirely from their host cells. They contain the cellular machinery for making their own DNA, RNA and proteins, but lack the ability to make ATP or other forms of energy. They make glutamate, glucose and pyruvate to a limited extend but without producing useful energy. So the RB moves ATP in and ADP out of their intracellular space by ATP-ADP exchange system. Then C.pecorum uses the ATP from the host to make proteins.


Chlamydophila pecorum infects mammals like sheep, goats(ruminant), cattle, pigs, koala, swine and pregnant ewe. Chlamydophila pecorum can cause a wide range of pathologies including polyarthritis, conjunctivitis, pneumonia, metritis, encephalomyelitis and subclinical enteric infections. Although transmission from animals to human is extremely rare, there have been some reports of this infection. For instance, women exposed to infected sheep during lambing had placentitis, intravascular coagulation and spontaneous abortion. There is no direct effect on the environment since it can’t live outside its host cell.


Chlamydophila pecorum is pathogenic and is highly adapted for infection within certain mammalian host. Its mechanism of infecting the host is termed the developmental cycle, which consists of infection, growth, maturation, release and reinfection. They cycle begins with the elementary bodies (EB) attaching into the host cells. The EB are small, rigid particles that are osmotically stable, but metabolically inert and thus unable to grow and divide. They also exist in the extracellular environment until a host cell is available for intracellular growth. After its entry into the host cell, EB converts to reticulate body (RB) that grow and divide by binary fission with the inclusion, which are intracellular, membrane enclosed organelle that help the growth of Chlamydophila pecorum. RBs are larger, osmotically unstable and unable to attach to the host cell so they are not infectious. RB eventually converts back to infectious EB in order to release EB into the environment and infect other neighboring host cells.

C.pecorum is found mostly in mammals like cattle, sheep, goats, koalas and swine. In koala, it causes urinary tract disease, infertility, and reproductive diseases. In other mammals, it is associated with abortion, conjunctivitis, encephalomyelitis, pneumonia, polyarthritis and enteritis. Symptoms are either absent or indolent so it is hard to diagnose. C.pecorum can be transmitted from animals to humans, but it is very rare.

Application to Biotechnology

Does this organism produce any useful compounds or enzymes? What are they and how are they used?

Current Research

Enter summaries of the most recent research here--at least three required


[Sample reference] Takai, K., Sugai, A., Itoh, T., and Horikoshi, K. "Palaeococcus ferrophilus gen. nov., sp. nov., a barophilic, hyperthermophilic archaeon from a deep-sea hydrothermal vent chimney". International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. 2000. Volume 50. p. 489-500.

Edited by student of Rachel Larsen