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Human Antibody Responses To A Chlamydia-Secreted Protease Factor

Jyotika Sharma, Anthony M. Bosnic, Jeanna M. Piper, Guangming Zhong

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ABSTRACT We have previously identified a chlamydia-secreted protein (designated chlamydial proteasome/protease-like activity factor, or CPAF) in the cytosol of chlamydia-infected cells. Although CPAF is known to degrade host transcription factors required for major histocompatibility complex antigen expression in cultured cells, it is not clear whether CPAF is produced and maintains similar functions in humans infected with chlamydial organisms. We now report that CPAF does not preexist in chlamydial organisms and that CPAF synthesis requires live organism replication in cultured cells. Mice inoculated with live, but not mice inoculated with dead, chlamydial organisms produced a strong antibody response to CPAF, correlating CPAF-specific antibody production with CPAF synthesis in animals. Sera from women diagnosed with Chlamydia trachomatis cervicitis displayed higher levels of antibodies to CPAF than to either chlamydial major outer membrane protein or heat shock protein 60, suggesting that CPAF is both produced and immunogenic during human chlamydial infection.