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The obligate intracellular bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis is the major causative agent of bacterial sexually transmitted diseases worldwide. In infected cells, the ceramide transport protein (CERT) is recruited to inclusions, where C. trachomatis replicates using host-synthesized ceramide. The ceramide is converted to sphingomyelin (SM) by a chlamydial infection-dependent SM synthesis (cidSM-synthesis) pathway, which occurs even in the absence of the SM synthases (SMS)-1 and -2 of host cells. The ceramide mimetic compound (1R,3S)-HPA-12 and the nonmimetic compound E16A, both of which are potent inhibitors of CERT, repressed the proliferation of C. trachomatis in HeLa cells. Unexpectedly, (1R,3R)-HPA-12, a ceramide mimetic compound that lacks CERT inhibitory activity, also exhibited potent anti-chlamydial activity. Using endogenous SMS-knockout mutant HeLa cells, we revealed that (1R,3R)-HPA-12 mildly inhibited cidSM-synthesis. In addition, LC-MS analysis revealed that (1R,3R)-HPA-12 is converted to a phosphocholine-conjugated metabolite in an infection-dependent manner. Imaging analysis with a fluorescent analog of ceramide suggested that cidSM-synthesis occurs in the bacterial bodies and/or inclusions. Collectively, these results suggested that (1R,3R)-HPA-12 exerts its anti-chlamydia activity not only as an inhibitor of cidSM-synthesis, but also via putative toxic effects of its phosphocholine adduct, which is most likely produced by the cidSM-synthesis route.


Keigo Kumagai, Shota Sakai, Masaharu Ueno, Michiyo Kataoka, Shu Kobayashi, Kentaro Hanada. Chlamydial Infection-Dependent Synthesis of Sphingomyelin as a Novel Anti-Chlamydial Target of Ceramide Mimetic Compounds. International journal of molecular sciences. 2022 Nov 24;23(23)

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PMID: 36499025

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