Outer Membrane Protein 2 Gene Sequences Indicate that Chlamydia pecorum and Chlamydia pneumoniae Cause Infections in Koalas
Tina Glassick,1 Philip Giffard,1 and Peter Timms1*
1 Centre for Molecular Biotechnology, School of Life Science, Queensland University of Technology, GPO Box 2434 Brisbane Australia 4001
Chlamydial infection in koalas causes conjunctivitis, rhinitis, urinary tract disease and female infertility. The chlamydial strains responsible have previously been designated as Chlamydia psittaci and have been subdivided into two types, I and II. In the present study we determined the DNA sequence of a 530 bp segment of the omp 2 gene from seven koala chlamydial strains, the type strain of C. pecorum, and the horse strain N16, and compared these with previously reported omp 2 gene sequences from 10 other chlamydials trains. Omp 2 sequence data clearly separated the seven koala strains into two genetic groups. Koala omp 2 group A corresponds to the previous type I designation and includes a conjunctival strain and a systemic disease-causing strain. The koala group A omp 2 sequence is 99% similar to the human C. pneumaniae IOL-207 strain and also 99% similar to the horse strain, N16. We propose that these koala strains be referred to as koala C. pneumaniae in future. Koala amp 2 group B corresponds to the previous koala type II designation and includes three urogenital tract strains plus two ocular strains. The koala group B amp 2 sequence is 99% similar to the C. pecorum type strain, VR628, while being only 77% similar to the EAE C. psittaci strain and only 71% similar to the koala group A strains. We propose that these koala strains be referred to as koala C. pecorum in future. The fact that two different species of Chlamydia infect koalas reinforces the observation that chlamydial species are not host restricted and makes us rethink the epidemiology of chlamydial disease in this marsupial.