Type II Fatty Acid Synthesis is Essential for the Replication of Chlamydia trachomatis [Microbiology]

June 23rd, 2014 by Yao, J., Abdelrahman, Y. M., Robertson, R. M., Cox, J. V., Belland, R. J., White, S. W., Rock, C. O.

The major phospholipid classes of the obligate intracellular bacterial parasite Chlamydia trachomatis are the same as its eukaryotic host except that they also contain chlamydial-made branched-chain fatty acids in the 2-position. Genomic analysis predicts C. trachomatis is capable of type II fatty acid synthesis (FASII). AFN-1252 was deployed as a chemical tool to specifically inhibit the enoyl-acyl carrier protein reductase (FabI) of C. trachomatis to determine if chlamydial FASII is essential for replication within the host. The C. trachomatis FabI (CtFabI) is a homotetramer, exhibited typical FabI kinetics, and its expression complemented an Escherichia coli fabI(Ts) strain. AFN-1252 inhibited CtFabI by binding to the FabI-NADH complex with an IC50 of 0.9 μM at saturating substrate concentration. The X-ray crystal structure of the CtFabI-NADH-AFN-1252 ternary complex revealed the specific interactions between the drug, protein and cofactor within the substrate binding site. AFN-1252 treatment of C. trachomatis infected HeLa cells at any point in the infectious cycle caused a decrease in infectious titers that correlated with a decrease in branched-chain fatty acid biosynthesis. AFN-1252 treatment at the time of infection prevented the first cell division of C. trachomatis, although the cell morphology suggested differentiation into a metabolically active reticulate body. These results demonstrate that FASII activity is essential for C. trachomatis proliferation within its eukaryotic host and validate CtFabI as a therapeutic target against C. trachomatis.