Chlamydia pneumoniae infections of the respiratory tract are common and are associated with acute and chronic diseases such as community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Recent studies have shown that reduced environmental oxygen availability promotes chlamydial growth in infected host cells. The underlying mechanisms remain unclear. We performed a targeted siRNA screen coupled with an automated high-throughput microscopic analysis to identify key host cell genes that play a role in promoting the hypoxic growth of C. pneumoniae. A total of 294 siRNAs - targeting 98 selected genes including central mediators of metabolic, trafficking and signaling pathways - were tested on chlamydial inclusion formation in C. pneumoniae infected A549 cells under normoxic (20% O2) and hypoxic (2% O2) conditions 48 h post infection. Evaluation of the different functional clusters of genes revealed that under hypoxic conditions, enhanced growth of C. pneumoniae was centrally mediated by the host cell glycolytic pathway. Inhibition of the phosphofructokinase (PFK), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GPD2) and the forkheadbox O3 (FOXO3) gene-expression by siRNAs abrogated chlamydial progeny. The pivotal role of host cell glycolysis in chlamydial development under hypoxia was further confirmed by pharmacological inhibition of the pathway by 2-fluoro-deoxy-glucose. The results indicate that the microenvironment of the host cell determines the fate of C. pneumoniae by controlling pathogen-induced metabolic pathways.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)