Infections due to the sexually transmitted bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis often remain unnoticed. The pathogen is not only a common cause of female infertility; it is also suspected of increasing the risk of abdominal cancer. A research team at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin has now observed the breakdown of an important endogenous protective factor in the course of chlamydial infection. By activating the destruction of p53 protein, the bacterium blocks a key protective mechanism of infected cells, the initiation of programmed cell death. This protective function of p53 is also impaired in many forms of cancer. The new insights underpin the suspected relationship between chlamydial infection and the occurrence of certain types of cancers.
Research news | 2014 | Chlamydia knock out the body’s own cancer defence