Researchers in California supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) have completed sequencing the Chlamydia trachomatis genome, providing new insights into chlamydial infection, the most prevalent bacterial sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the United States and a major cause of STDs worldwide. C. trachomatis also is the etiologic agent of ocular trachoma, the leading cause of preventable blindness in the developing world. A report describing the project appears in the Oct. 23, 1998 issue of Science.
This project was a collaborative effort between scientists at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of California at San Francisco, and the DNA Sequencing and Technology Center at Stanford University. Richard S. Stephens, Ph.D., M.P.H., primary investigator of the project, led the microbiology team at the University of California at Berkeley, and Ronald Davis, Ph.D., led the sequencing effort at Stanford. The sequenced genome has already been entered into a new on-line database, the STD Relational Database (http://www.stdgen.lanl.gov), funded by NIAID and designed to accelerate research on STDs.
"Their accomplishment has important implications for vaccine development," comments Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of NIAID. "The genome sequence has revealed surface proteins about which we knew nothing, and the organism's unique biochemical pathways provide promising new leads for developing antibiotics."
More than 4 million new cases of chlamydial infection occur in the United States each year, and associated medical costs are estimated to exceed $2 billion. Control of chlamydial infection is complicated by the frequency of asymptomatic disease, the cost and complexity of many available diagnostic tests, and the inadequacy of prevention and control programs.
In women, 20 to 40 percent of untreated or inadequately treated chlamydial
Contact: Laurie K. Doepel
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases