A study by the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio has uncovered the structure behind a protein produced by the chlamydia bug. The protein, known as Pgp3, is secreted by the bacteria that causes the condition.
Currently, there are effective medications available to treat chlamydia, according to the Mayo Clinic, but this new research could contribute to alternative therapies. The majority of infections is subdued within 14 days through the use of daily or one-time antibiotics. The source noted that while it is treatable, during the medication period, the patient should abstain from sex, and it is advisable that any recent sexual partners be treated as well.
Chlamydia is typically a sexually transmitted disease, but it is possible for mothers to transfer it to their children during childbirth. This creates a risk of pneumonia or severe eye infections in the newborn.
Study reveals unusual structure
The researchers found that the protein has an unusual structure.
"This long and slender molecule contains a fusion of structural motifs that resemble those typically found in viral and not bacterial proteins," said John Hart, Ph.D., one of the lead authors of the study.
The researchers describe Pgp3 as the Eiffel Tower of proteins, and it is expected to lead to new strategies for diagnosing and controlling chlamydia. The report noted that 2.8 million people in the U.S. become infected with the disease annually.
The protein is hypothesized to improve the chlamydia bug's ability to infect patients and later to avoid detection by the body's defenses. Researchers noted that they still do not know the exact role that Pgp3 plays in chlamydia infection, but that the structural information may help to shed some light on its influence.