Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Optimal Proliferation and Differentiation of Chlamydia Trachomatis.

  • Author(s): Wan, FYM
  • Enciso, GA
  • et al.

Chlamydia trachomatis is a bacterium that causes eye infection and blindness in humans. It has an unusual life cycle involving two developmental forms. Within a cytoplasmic inclusion, the reticulate body (RB) repeatedly divides by binary fission and asynchronously differentiates into the infectious elementary body (EB). Upon the death of the mammalian cell that host many such inclusions, only the EB form of the bacteria survive and proceed to infect other cells. Given the bacteria's fast spreading infection, conventional wisdom would have the few initial EB turn into RB, divide and proliferate first, and then eventually start converting in order to maximize the terminal EB population upon host cell lysis. Several biological processes are seen as possible mechanisms for implementing such a conversion strategy. However, the optimality of an instinctual strategy with a period of proliferate without conversion prior to the onset of differentiation has never been substantiated theoretically or justified mathematically. This paper formulates three relatively simple models that capture the essential features of the Chlamydia life cycle. When the initial infection is caused by the endocytosis of a small EB population well below the carrying capacity of the host cell, the Maximum Principle requires for these models an optimal conversion strategy that confirms and rigorously justifies the prevailing view of no conversion at the early stage of the host cell infection. However, the conventional supposition is found to be inappropriate for an initial EB (-to-RB) population near or above the carrying capacity. Previously suggested and new biological mechanisms are examined for their role in implementing the different optimal conversion strategies associated with models investigated herein.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
Current View