Chapter 40 : Molecular Evolution of Chlamydiales

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Organisms of the order Chlamydiales comprise a group of obligate intracellular pathogens of ever-growing importance and number. Over the past six years, comparative analyses of complete chlamydial genome sequences have provided an explosive amount of data that have led to important new hypotheses regarding the molecular origins of Chlamydiales. It was surprising that Chlamydiales had many proteins that were similar to plant proteins targeted to the chloroplast. Protease-like activating factor (CPAF) is unique to Chlamydiales and likely critical to host adaptive immunity. Many of the gene differences identified are clustered into discrete regions including the replication termination region terminus or the plasticity zone (PZ), the two clusters plus PmpD of polymorphic membrane proteins (Pmp), the transmembrane head (TMH)/Inc protein cluster, and the biotin biosynthetic operon. Some of the most interesting data on Inc proteins has come from Chlamydiales genomic comparisons, where 20 open reading frames were identified for the genus Chlamydia. Studying the genetic variability of multiple genes encoded by chlamydial genomes has resulted in insights into the molecular evolution of this organism. Researchers have focused on the comparative genetics of genes with sufficient genetic variation or those with specialized structural or housekeeping functions. From these studies, a number of findings are revealing the mechanisms by which Chlamydiales diverge.

Citation: Dean D, Millman K. 2008. Molecular Evolution of Chlamydiales, p 475-488. In Baquero F, Nombela C, Cassell G, Gutiérrez-Fuentes J (ed), Evolutionary Biology of Bacterial and Fungal Pathogens. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815639.ch40
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