BLAST screening of chlamydial genomes to identify signature proteins that are unique for the Chlamydiales, Chlamydiaceae, Chlamydophila and Chlamydia groups of species.
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BACKGROUND: Chlamydiae species are of much importance from a clinical viewpoint. Their diversity both in terms of their numbers as well as clinical involvement are presently believed to be significantly underestimated. The obligate intracellular nature of chlamydiae has also limited their genetic and biochemical studies. Thus, it is of importance to develop additional means for their identification and characterization. RESULTS: We have carried out analyses of available chlamydiae genomes to identify sets of unique proteins that are either specific for all Chlamydiales genomes, or different Chlamydiaceae family members, or members of the Chlamydia and Chlamydophila genera, or those unique to Protochlamydia amoebophila, but which are not found in any other bacteria. In total, 59 Chlamydiales-specific proteins, 79 Chlamydiaceae-specific proteins, 20 proteins each that are specific for both Chlamydia and Chlamydophila and 445 ORFs that are Protochlamydia-specific were identified. Additionally, 33 cases of possible gene loss or lateral gene transfer were also detected. CONCLUSION: The identified chlamydiae-lineage specific proteins, many of which are highly conserved, provide novel biomarkers that should prove of much value in the diagnosis of these bacteria and in exploration of their prevalence and diversity. These conserved protein sequences (CPSs) also provide novel therapeutic targets for drugs that are specific for these bacteria. Lastly, functional studies on these chlamydiae or chlamydiae subgroup-specific proteins should lead to important insights into lineage-specific adaptations with regards to development, infectivity and pathogenicity.
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