Researchers from the
Diaminopimelate, or DAP, is an unusual amino acid that is only synthesized by plants and bacteria. Plants use DAP to make lysine, an essential amino acid, while bacteria use DAP both to make lysine and as a key building block of their cell wall.
In studying the genome sequence of Chlamydia trachomatis for the DAP synthesis pathway, Anthony Maurelli, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology at USU, along with Andrea McCoy, PhD, a former USU molecular and cell biology graduate student, and Nancy Adams, a scientist in Maurellis laboratory, discovered that Chlamydia appeared to be missing genes for three of the eight enzymes needed to make DAP. They discovered that a single Chlamydia gene, encoding the enzyme L,L-diaminopimelate aminotransferase, filled this pathway hole and provided a new route for synthesizing DAP.
The gene that Maurellis team discovered was similar to a sequence that Thomas Leustek of
Chlamydia infections commonly cause urethritis in men, and in women (who are generally asymptomatic with it), if untreated, can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility. An estimated 2.8 million men and women each year are infected with Chlamydia making it the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the
The latest work, which describes the similarities in the enzymes of Chlamydia and plants, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Online Early Edition this week. In addition to Maurellis team, other authors include Thomas Leustek and Andre Hudson of
Established by U.S. Congress in 1972, the
Source: Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU)