'Small' talk: Opa proteins as mediators of Neisseria-host-cell communication

Curr Opin Microbiol. 2003 Feb;6(1):43-9. doi: 10.1016/s1369-5274(03)00004-3.


Opa proteins are variable outer membrane proteins of Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Neisseria meningitidis that mediate tight interaction of these pathogens with human cells. They have emerged as a paradigm of a bacterial toolbox allowing recognition of different host receptors and orchestrating the cell type tropism displayed by pathogenic Neisseriae. Recent work has highlighted the molecular basis of Opa-protein-host-receptor interaction and has shed new light on the functional consequences of this interaction with regard to bacterial attachment, invasion, and responses elicited in particular host cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Bacterial / classification
  • Antigens, Bacterial / isolation & purification
  • Antigens, Bacterial / physiology*
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / physiology*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / microbiology
  • Gonorrhea / genetics
  • Humans
  • Meningitis, Meningococcal / genetics
  • Models, Biological
  • Neisseria / pathogenicity*
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / pathogenicity
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / physiology
  • Neisseria meningitidis / pathogenicity
  • Neisseria meningitidis / physiology
  • Neisseriaceae Infections / microbiology*


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • opacity proteins