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PLOS Science Wednesday: Hi reddit, we’re Johannes and Katja, and our research investigates the molecular processes that help chlamydiae pathogenic bacteria infect human hosts – Ask us Anything!
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Abstract

Hi Reddit, My name is Johannes Hegemann and I am Professor of Microbiology and Head of the Institute for Functional Microbial Genomics at the Heinrich-Heine-University in Düsseldorf, Germany. And my name in Katja Mölleken and I am a Senior Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Functional Microbial Genomics at the Heinrich-Heine-University in Düsseldorf, Germany. Our research focuses on the molecular mechanisms that enable the pathogenic bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis and Chlamydia pneumoniae to infect their human hosts. This month, we published a study titled “Acquisition of Rab11 and Rab11-Fip2 – A novel strategy for Chlamydia pneumoniae early survival” in the journal PLOS Pathogens. Infection begins when the chlamydiae recognize specific receptors on their target cells, which triggers uptake of the bacteria. Once inside the cell, they establish a membrane-bound compartment termed an inclusion, in which they multiply before being released to infect new human cells. In our study we found that the nascent chlamydial inclusion actively recruits specific host proteins called Rab proteins into its membrane. These proteins define the inclusion as a so-called recycling endosome vesicle, within which the Chlamydiae hide out, so as to avoid degradation by the host cell’s waste disposal system, the lysosome. Our findings help to understand how Chlamydiae establish the intracellular niche which is essential for their survival and release. We will be answering your questions at 1pm ET – Ask us Anything!