• Chlamydia ;
  • plasmid;
  • mouse;
  • virulence;
  • infection;
  • genome


We hypothesized that the plasmid of urogenital isolates of Chlamydia trachomatis would modulate infectivity and virulence in a mouse model. To test this hypothesis, we infected female mice in the respiratory or urogenital tract with graded doses of a human urogenital isolate of C. trachomatis, serovar F, possessing the cognate plasmid. For comparison, we inoculated mice with a plasmid-free serovar F isolate. Following urogenital inoculation, the plasmid-free isolate displayed significantly reduced infectivity compared with the wild-type strain with the latter yielding a 17-fold lower infectious dose to yield 50% infection. When inoculated via the respiratory tract, the plasmid-free isolate exhibited reduced infectivity and virulence (as measured by weight change) when compared to the wild-type isolate. Further, differences in infectivity, but not in virulence were observed in a C. trachomatis, serovar E isolate with a deletion within the plasmid coding sequence 1 when compared to a serovar E isolate with no mutations in the plasmid. We conclude that plasmid loss reduces virulence and infectivity in this mouse model. These findings further support a role for the chlamydial plasmid in infectivity and virulence in vivo.