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Neisseria meningitidis (Nm) is a human specific opportunistic pathogen that occasionally penetrates mucosal barriers via the action of adhesins and invasins and evades host immune mechanisms during further dissemination via capsule expression. From in vitro studies, the primary adhesion of capsulate bacteria is believed to be mediated by polymeric pili, followed by invasion via outer membrane adhesins such as Opa proteins. As the latter requires the surface capsule to be down-modulated, invading bacteria would be serum sensitive and thus avirulent. However, there is recent evidence that capsulate bacteria may interact via Opa proteins when host cells express high levels of carcinoembryonic antigenrelated cell adhesion molecules (CEACAMs), their target receptors. Such a situation may arise following increased circulation of inflammatory cytokines that upregulate certain adhesion molecules on host cells. In this study, using a tetracycline controlled expression system, we have developed cell lines with inducible CEACAM expression to mimic post-inflammation state of target tissues and analysed the interplay between the three surface components capsule, pili and Opa proteins in cellular interactions. With two distinct cell lines, not only the level but also the rate of adhesion of capsulate Opa-expressing Nm increased concurrently with CEACAM density. Moreover, when threshold levels of receptor were reached, cellular invasion ensued in an Opa-dependent manner. In studies with cell lines intrinsically expressing pilus receptors, notable synergism in cellular interactions between pili and Opa of several meningococcal strains was observed and was independent of capsule type. A number of internalized bacteria were shown to express capsule and when directly isolated from host cells, these bacteria were as serum resistant as the inoculated phenotype. Furthermore, we observed that agents that block Opaâ€“CEACAM binding substantially reduced cellular invasion, while maintaining a low level of cellular adhesion. These studies highlight some of the factors that may determine increased host susceptibility to infection by serum resistant phenotypes; and demonstrate the potential of selective inhibition of key interactions in preventing target tissue penetration while maintaining a level of colonization.
|Translated title of the contribution||Co-ordinate action of bacterial adhesins and human carcinoembryonic antigen receptors in enhanced cellular invasion by capsulate serum resistant Neisseria meningitidis|
|Pages (from-to)||154 - 168|
|Number of pages||15|
|Publication status||Published - Jan 2007|