Chlamydia trachomatis is an obligate intracellular bacterium that causes a diversity of severe and debilitating diseases worldwide. Sporadic and ongoing outbreaks of lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) strains among men who have sex with men (MSM) support the need for research on virulence factors associated with these organisms. Previous analyses have been limited to single genes or genomes of laboratory-adapted reference strain L2/434 and outbreak strain L2b/UCH-1/proctitis. We characterized an unusual LGV strain, termed L2c, isolated from an MSM with severe hemorrhagic proctitis. L2c developed nonfusing, grape-like inclusions and a cytotoxic phenotype in culture, unlike the LGV strains described to date. Deep genome sequencing revealed that L2c was a recombinant of L2 and D strains with conserved clustered regions of genetic exchange, including a 78-kb region and a partial, yet functional, toxin gene that was lost with prolonged culture. Indels (insertions/deletions) were discovered in an ftsK gene promoter and in the tarp and hctB genes, which encode key proteins involved in replication, inclusion formation, and histone H1-like protein activity, respectively. Analyses suggest that these indels affect gene and/or protein function, supporting the in vitro and disease phenotypes. While recombination has been known to occur for C. trachomatis based on gene sequence analyses, we provide the first whole-genome evidence for recombination between a virulent, invasive LGV strain and a noninvasive common urogenital strain. Given the lack of a genetic system for producing stable C. trachomatis mutants, identifying naturally occurring recombinants can clarify gene function and provide opportunities for discovering avenues for genomic manipulation
To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.