Scott Hefty photoP. Scott Hefty
Department of Molecular Biosciences
The University of Kansas


Structural and functional genomics for Chlamydial hypothetical proteins (2012-2013)

Chlamydia is a medically important bacteria with an immense impact on public health. These studies are designed to gain a better understanding how this organisms functions and causes disease. As a result, we will have better strategies to disrupt these processes.

The obligate intracellular bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis causes a range of pathologies including blinding trachoma, conjunctivitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and infertility. The tangible approximate cost for treating pelvic inflammatory disease and associated complications is over 4 billion dollar annually. No vaccine is available for C. trachomatis infections in humans. While antibiotics are currently effective for treatment, there are only few available. Furthermore, resistance to the clinically preferred antibiotic (doxycycline) is already present in Chlamydia species. As observed for many bacteria, antibiotic resistance is expected to spread within Chlamydia and result in a major public health challenge if new antibiotics or vaccine are not developed.

Rationale design of novel antibiotics and vaccines requires a comprehensive knowledge of components that are critical to a bacterium and its ability to cause disease. Defining the function of the exceptionally high percentage of hypothetical proteins encoded by Chlamydia will serve to substantially contribute to this comprehensive knowledge base. It will also promote a better understanding regarding the fundamental processes of these unique bacteria. Furthermore, these studies will also provide the accurate molecular structure that, in combination with mechanistic insight, is integral to rationale design of novel antimicrobials.