Eukaryotic clathrin adapter protein and mediator of cholesterol homeostasis, PICALM, affects trafficking to the chlamydial inclusion

Published: 20 January 2023| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/x8kbx5hmxs.1
Elizabeth Rucks


The obligate intracellular pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis has unique metabolic requirements as it proceeds through its biphasic developmental cycle from within the inclusion within the host cell. In our previous study, we identified a host protein, PICALM, which localizes to the chlamydial inclusion. PICALM functions in many host pathways including the recycling of receptors, specific SNARE proteins, and molecules like transferrin, and maintaining cholesterol homeostasis. Hence, we hypothesized that PICALM functions to maintain the cholesterol content and to moderate trafficking from the endosomal recycling pathway to the inclusion, which controls chlamydial access to this pathway. In uninfected cells, siRNA knockdown of PICALM resulted in increased cholesterol within the Golgi and transferrin receptor (TfR) positive vesicles (recycling endosomes). PICALM knockdown in cells infected with C. trachomatis resulted in increased levels of Golgi-derived lipid and protein, TfR, transferrin, and Rab11-FIP1 localized to inclusions and a decrease of Golgi fragmentation at and Rab11 trafficking to the inclusion. Interestingly, chlamydial infection alone also increases cholesterol in TfR and Rab11-associated vesicles, and PICALM knockdown reverses this effect. Our data suggest that PICALM functions to balance or limit chlamydial access to multiple subcellular trafficking pathways to maintain the health of the host cell during chlamydial infection.


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Microbiology, Cell Biology, Intracellular Trafficking, Bacterial Pathogen


National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases