Chlamydia are gram negative bacteria with a unique biphasic developmental cycle. Chlamydia infections result in major health problems worldwide, causing serious human diseases as trachoma and sexually transmitted disease leading to female infertility (Chlamydia trachomatis) and respiratory disease leading to pneumonia and recently linked to heart disease and stroke (Chlamydia pneumoniae).

A common feature of these diseases is that infected people often go undetected for long periods before eventually showing serious signs of the chronic diseases. Chlamydia also causes a wide range of important diseases in birds (psittacosis) and animals including cattle, sheep, cats and koalas. The past few years has seen the full genome sequencing of several species/strains of Chlamydia, promoting new studies in chlamydial molecular biology.

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Koala mother and baby.

The members of the program are acknowledged leaders in this field and have active research projects in several areas, including:

  • development of a human vaccine for chlamydial sexually transmitted disease (Beagley, Timms, Hafner)
  • understanding basic mechanisms of regulation, including the importance of chlamydial proteases (Huston, Timms)
  • chlamydial infections in wildlife, particularly koalas (Timms, Beagley)
  • genomics and gene regulation studies in Chlamydia (Hogan, Timms)

Publications and output

Vaccine development

  • Mossman, D., Beagley, K., Landay, A., Loewanthal, M., Ooi, C., Timms, P. and Boyle, M. (2008) Genotyping of urogenital Chlamydia trachomatis in regional New South Wales. Sexually Transmitted Diseases 35 : 614 -  616.
  • Barker, C., Beagley, K., Hafner, L. and Timms, P. (2008) In silico identification and in vivo analysis of a novel T cell antigen from Chlamydia, NrdB. Vaccine 26 : 1285 - 1296.
  • Bandea, C., Debattista, J., Kahaliah, J., Igietseme, J., Timms, P. and Black, C. (2008) Chlamydia trachomatis serovars among rural indigenous communities and urban populations in Australia. Journal of Clinical Microbiology 46 : 355 - 356.
  • Hafner, L., Beagley, K and Timms, P. (2007) Chlamydia trachomatis infection : Host immune responses and potential vaccines. Mucosal Immunology 1 : 116 - 130.
  • McNeilly, C., Beagley, K., Moore, R., Haring, V., Timms, P. and Hafner, L. (2007) Expression library immunization confers partial protection against Chlamydia muridarum genital infection. Vaccine 25 : 2643 - 2655.
  • Debattista, J., Gazzard, C., Wood, R., Allan, J.A., Allan, J.M., Scarman, A., Mortlock, M., Timms, P. & Knox, C. (2005) Interaction of microbiology and pathology in women undergoing investigations for infertility. Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology 12:135-145.
  • Debattista, J, Allen, J, Allen, J and Timms, P (2003) Immunopathogenesis of Chlamydia trachomatis infections in women - a review. Fertility & Sterility 79 : 1273-1287.
  • Volp, K., Mathews, S., Timms, P. and Hafner, L. (2001) Peptide immunisation of guinea pigs against GPIC C. caviae induces good vaginal secretion antibodies, in vitro neutralisation and partial protection against live challenge. Immunology & Cell Biology 79: 245-250.

Basic mechanisms of regulation and control

  • Polkinghorne, A., Ziegler, U., Fischer, R., Pospischil, A., Timms, P. and Vaughan, L. (2008) Chlamydia pneumoniae HflX is a novel, evolutionarily conserved GTPase which associates with the 50S large ribosomal subunit. Microbiology (accepted June 2008)
  • Huston, W., Theodoropoulos, Mathews, S and Timms, P. (2008) Penicillin persistence, IFN-gamma persistence and heat shock response by Chlamydia trachomatis all involve changes in levels of the extra-cytoplasmic stress response protease HtrA. BMC Microbiology (submitted 18 August 2008)
  • Timms, P., Wan, C., Theodoropoulos, C., Mukhopadhyay, S., Summersgill, J. and Mathews, S. (2008) Common transcriptional responses evident between interferon-gamma induction and iron-limitation models of persistence in Chlamydia pneumoniae. Journal of Microbiology, Immunology & Infection (accepted February 2008)
  • Hoare, A., Timms, P., Bavoil, P. and Wilson, D. (2008) Spatial constraints within the chlamydial host cell inclusion predict interrupted development and persistent growth. BMC Microbiology 8:5 (9 January 2008)
  • Huston, W., Swedberg, J., Harris, J., Walsh, T., Mathews, S. and Timms, P. (2007) The temperature activated HtrA protease from the pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis acts as both a chaperone and protease at 37C. FEBS Letters 581 : 3382 - 3386.
  • Peters, J., Wilson, D., Myers, G., Timms, P. and Bavoil, P. (2007) Type III secretion a la Chlamydia. Trends in Microbiology 15 : 241 - 251.
  • Mukhopadhyay, S., Good, D., Miller, R., Graham, J., Mathews, S., Timms, P. and Summersgill, J. (2006) Identification of Chlamydia pneumoniae proteins in the transition from reticulate to elementary body formation. Molecular and Cellular Proteomics 5 : 2311 - 2318.
  • Nicole Borel, Sanghamitra Mukhopadhyay, Carmen Kaiser, Erin D. Sullivan, Richard D. Miller, Peter Timms, James T. Summersgill and Andreas Pospischil (2006) Tissue MicroArray (TMA) analysis of normal and persistent Chlamydia pneumoniae infection. BMC Infectious Diseases 6 : 152 - 155.
  • Mukhopadhyay, S., Miller, R., Mathews, S., Timms, P. and Summersgill, J. (2006) Protein expression profiles of Chlamydia pneumoniae : persistence versus heat shock stress response. Infection & Immunity 74 : 3853 - 3863
  • Polkinghorne, A., Hogan, R., Vaughn, L., Summersgill, J. and Timms, P. (2005) Differential expression of cell signaling genes in normal and interferon gamma-induced persistent Chlamydia pneumoniae infections. Microbes & Infection 8 : 61 - 72.
  • Hogan, R., Mathews, S, Mukopathday, S., Summersgill, J. and Timms, P. (2004) Chlamydial persistence : beyond the biphasic paradigm. Mini-review in Infection & Immunity 72 : 1843 - 1855.
  • Wilson, D., Timms, P. and McElwain, S. (2003) A mathematical model for the investigation of the Th1 immune response to Chlamydia trachomatis. Mathematical Biosciences 182 : 27 - 44.

Chlamydia and wildlife

  • Mitchell, C., Mathews, S., Theodoropoulos, C. & Timms, P. (2008) In vitro characterisation of koala Chlamydia pneumoniae : morphology, inclusion development and growth. Veterinary Microbiology (submitted August 2008)
  • Kutlin, A., Roblin, P., Kumar, S., Kohlhoff, S., Bodetti, T., Timms, P. and Hammerschlag, M. (2007) Molecular characterisation of Chlamydophila pneumoniae isolates from Western Barred bandicoots. Journal of Medical Microbiology 56 : 407 - 417.
  • Kumar, S., Kutlin, A., Roblin, P., Kohlhoff, S., Bodetti, T., Timms, P. and Hammerschlag, M. (2007) Isolation and antimicrobial susceptibilities of chlamydial isolates from Western barred bandicoots. Journal of Clinical Microbiology 45 : 392 - 394.
  • Markey, B., Wan, C., Hanger, J., Phillips, C. and Timms, P. (2007) Use of quantitative real-time PCR to monitor the shedding of chlamydiae in the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus). Veterinary Microbiology 120 : 334 - 342.
  • Warren, K., Swan, R., Bodetti, T., Friend, T., Hill, S. and Timms, P. (2005) Ocular Chlamydiales infections of Western barred bandicoots (Perameles bougainville) in Western Australia. Journal of Zoo & Wildlife Medicine 36 : 100-102.
  • Bodetti, T., Viggers, K., Warren, K., Swan, R., Conaghty, S., Sims, C. and Timms, P. (2003) Wide range of Chlamydiales types detected in native Australian mammals. Veterinary Microbiology 96 : 177-187.
  • Bodetti, T., Hengstberger, K., Johnston, S. and Timms, P. (2003) Evaluation of tetracycline, erythromycin, penicillin and streptomycin for decontaminating koala semen contaminated in vitro with chlamydiae. Veterinary Record 153 : 588-591.
  • Devereaux, L., Polkinghorne, A., Meijer, A. and Timms, P. (2003) Molecular evidence for novel chlamydial infections in the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus). Systematic and Applied Microbiology 26 : 245-253.
  • Bodetti, T., Jacobson, E., Wan, C., Pospischil, A., Hafner, L., Rose, K. and Timms, P. (2003) Molecular evidence to support the expansion of the hostrange of Chlamydophila pneumoniae to include reptiles and amphibians. Systematic and Applied Microbiology 25 : 146 - 152.
  • Bodetti, T., Johnston, S., Pospischil, A., Knox, C. and Timms, P. (2002) PCR detection of Chlamydia in koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) semen. Veterinary Record 151 : 147-149.
  • Jackson, M., White, N., Giffard, P. and Timms, P. (1999) Epizootiology of Chlamydia infections in two free-range koala populations. Veterinary Microbiology 65: 255-264.
  • Wardrop, S., Fowler, A., O'Callaghan, P., Giffard, P and Timms, P. (1999) Characterization of the koala biovar of Chlamydia pneumoniae at four gene loci - ompAVD4, ompB, 16S rRNA, groESL spacer region. Systematic & Applied Microbiology 22: 22-27.
  • Jackson, M., Giffard, P. And Timms, P. (1997) Outer membrane protein A gene sequencing demonstrates the polyphyletic nature of koala Chlamydia pecorum isolates. Systematic and Applied Microbiology 20 : 187-200.
  • Glassick, T.V., Giffard, P. and Timms, P. (1996) Outer membrane protein 2 gene sequences indicate that two chlamydial species, Chlamydia pecorum and Chlamydia pneumoniae cause infections in koalas. Systematic and Applied Microbiology 19: 457-464.

Genomics and bioinformatics

  • Grech, B., Mathews, S and Timms, P. (2008) Phylogenetic comparison of the known Chlamydia trachomatis sigma-66 promoters across to Chlamydia pneumoniae and Chlamydia caviae identifies seven poorly conserved promoters. Research in Microbiology (in press 20 August 2008).
  • Towsey, M., Timms, P., Hogan, J and Mathews, S. (2008) The cross-species prediction of bacterial promoters using a support vector machine. Computational Biology and Chemistry 32 : 359 - 366.
  • Towsey, M., Hogan, J., Mathews, S. and Timms, P. (2007) The in silico prediction of promoters in bacterial genomes. Genome Informatics Series, Vol 19, pp 178-189, Eds, See-Kiong Ng, Hiroshi Mamitsuka & Limsoon Wang, Singapore, ISSN:0919-9454.
  • Grech, B., Maetchke, S., Mathews, S and Timms, P. (2007) Genome-wide analysis of chlamydiae for promoters that phylogenetically footprint. Research in Microbiology 158 : 685 - 693.
  • Chen, Y, Timms, P and Chen, YPP (2007) CIDB : Chlamydia Interactive Database for cross-querying genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics data. Biomolecular Engineering 24 : 603 - 608.
  • Mathews, S. and Timms, P. (2006) In silico identification of chlamydial promoters and their role in regulation of chlamydial growth and development, Chapter 7, pp 133 - 156, in Chlamydia : Genomics, pathogenesis, Edited by P M Bavoil & P B Wyrick, Horizon Bioscience. ISBN-10 1-904933-21-1
  • Gordon, J., Towsey, M., Hogan, J, Mathews, S and Timms, P. (2006) Improved prediction of bacterial transcription start sites. Bioinformatics 22 : 142 - 148.
  • Mathews, S. and Timms, P. (2000) Identification and mapping of sigma-54 promoters in Chlamydia trachomatis. J Bacteriology 182 : 6239-6242.
  • Mathews, S., Volp, K. and Timms, P. (1999) Development of a quantitative gene expression assay for Chlamydia trachomatis identified temporal expression of sigma factors. FEBS Letters 458:354-358.