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Host cell invasion by pathogenic Neisseriae

Host cell invasion by pathogenic Neisseriae

Sub-Cellular Biochemistry 33: 61-96

As outlined in this review, various experimental techniques have been employed in an attempt to understand neisserial pathogenesis. In vitro genetic analysis has been used to study the genetic basis for the structural variability of cell surface components. Transformed or primary epithelial cell cultures have provided the simplest model to analyze bacterial adherence and invasion, while the infection of polarized epithelial monolayers, fallopian tube and nasopharyngeal organ cultures, and ureteral tissue have each been used to more closely represent the events which occur in vivo. Finally, the in vivo infection of human volunteers with N. gonorrhoeae has provided a powerful means to confirm and expand the results obtained in vitro. By these various approaches, a number of neisserial adhesins (i.e. pilli, Opa, Opc and P36) and additional putative virulence determinants which affect bacterial adherence and invasion into host cells (i.e. LOS, capsule, PorB) have been identified. Clearly, neisserial surface variation serves as an adaptive mechanism which can modulate tissue tropism, immune evasion and survival in the changing host environment. Important progress has been made in recent years with respect to the host cellular receptors and subsequent signal transduction processes which are involved in neisserial adherence, invasion and transcytosis. This has led to the identification of (i) CD46 as a receptor for pilus which allows adherence to epithelial and endothelial cells, (ii) HSPGs, in cooperation with vitronectin and fibronectin, as receptors for a particular subset of Opa proteins and Opc, which may both mediate invasion into most epithelial and endothelial cells, and (iii) CD66 as the receptors for most Opa variants, potentially being involved in cellular interactions including adherence, invasion and transcytosis with epithelial, endothelial and phagocytic cells. As most of these data have been obtained using transformed cell lines growing in vitro, attempts must be made to translate these basic observations into a more natural situation. It can be expected that the successful ongoing integration of laboratory findings from the various infection models with human volunteer studies will further increase our understanding of the biology of neisserial infection. Perhaps the most difficult but also most rewarding challenge for the future will be to use volunteer studies to identify and understand the role of host factors which are important for the infectious process. Hopefully, insights gained from each of these studies will reveal new and useful strategies for the preventive and/or therapeutic intervention into infection and disease by these fascinating microbes.

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Accession: 046274740

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PMID: 10804852

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