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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Drosophila melanogaster S2 cells: a model system to study Chlamydia interaction with host cells

  • Author(s): Elwell, C
  • Engel, J N
  • et al.

Chlamydia spp. are major causes of important human diseases, but dissecting the host-pathogen interactions has been hampered by the lack of bacterial genetics and the difficulty in carrying out forward genetic screens in mammalian hosts. RNA interference (RNAi)-based methodologies for gene inactivation can now be easily carried out in genetically tractable model hosts, such as Drosophila melanogaster, and offer a new approach to identifying host genes required for pathogenesis. We tested whether Chlamydia trachomatis infection of D. melanogaster S2 cells recapitulated critical aspects of mammalian cell infections. As in mammalian cells, C. trachomatis entry was greatly reduced by heparin and cytochalasin D. Inclusions were formed in S2 cells, acquired Golgi-derived sphingolipids, and avoided phagolysosomal fusion. Elementary body (EB) to reticulate body (RB) differentiation was observed, however, no RB to EB development or host cell killing was observed. RNAi-mediated inactivation of Rac, a Rho GTPase recently shown to be required for C. trachomatis entry in mammalian cells, inhibits C. trachomatis infection in S2 cells. We conclude that Drosophila S2 cells faithfully mimic early events in Chlamydia host cell interactions and provides a bona fide system to systematically dissect host functions important in the pathogenesis of obligate intracellular pathogens.

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