Discovery of catalases in members of the Chlamydiales order

Brigida Rusconi, Gilbert Greub

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Catalase is an important virulence factor for survival in macrophages and other phagocytic cells. In Chlamydiaceae, no catalase had been described so far. With the sequencing and annotation of the full genomes of Chlamydia-related bacteria, the presence of different catalase-encoding genes has been documented. However, their distribution in the Chlamydiales order and the functionality of these catalases remain unknown. Phylogeny of chlamydial catalases was inferred using MrBayes, maximum likelihood, and maximum parsimony algorithms, allowing the description of three clade 3 and two clade 2 catalases. Only monofunctional catalases were found (no catalase-peroxidase or Mn-catalase). All presented a conserved catalytic domain and tertiary structure. Enzymatic activity of cloned chlamydial catalases was assessed by measuring hydrogen peroxide degradation. The catalases are enzymatically active with different efficiencies. The catalase of Parachlamydia acanthamoebae is the least efficient of all (its catalytic activity was 2 logs lower than that of Pseudomonas aeruginosa). Based on the phylogenetic analysis, we hypothesize that an ancestral class 2 catalase probably was present in the common ancestor of all current Chlamydiales but was retained only in Criblamydia sequanensis and Neochlamydia hartmannellae. The catalases of class 3, present in Estrella lausannensis and Parachlamydia acanthamoebae, probably were acquired by lateral gene transfer from Rhizobiales, whereas for Waddlia chondrophila they likely originated from Legionellales or Actinomycetales. The acquisition of catalases on several occasions in the Chlamydiales suggests the importance of this enzyme for the bacteria in their host environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3543-3551
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number16
StatePublished - 2013


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