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This study investigated the proteoglycan (PG)-dependent mechanism of Chlamydophila pneumoniae attachment to lymphocytic cells. Lymphoid Jurkat cells and epithelial HEp-2 cells were statically infected with C. pneumoniae (TW183). Transmission electron microscopy and assessment of inclusion-forming units indicated that the bacteria grew normally in Jurkat cells and were capable of producing secondary infection; however, they grew at a slower rate than in HEp-2 cells. RT-PCR analysis indicated that HEp-2 cells strongly expressed PG-core protein encoding genes, thereby sustaining glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), such as heparin, on the cellular surface. Similar gene expression levels were not observed in Jurkat cells, with the exception of glypican-1. Immunofluorescence analysis also supported strong heparin expression in HEp-2 cells and minimal expression in Jurkat cells, although heparan sulfate pretreatment significantly inhibited bacterial attachment to both cell types. Immunofluorescent co-staining with antibodies against chlamydial LPS and heparin did not identify bacterial and heparin co-localization on Jurkat cells. We also confirmed that when C. pneumoniae was statically infected to human CD4(+) peripheral blood lymphocytes known not expressing detectable level of heparin, the bacteria attached to and formed inclusion bodies in the cells. Thus, the attachment mechanism of C. pneumoniae to Jurkat cells with low PG expression is unique when compared with HEp-2 cells and potentially independent of GAGs such as heparin.


  • Microbial Pathogenesis

    Microbial Pathogenesis 51(3), 209-216, 2011-09



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