Defenses against oxidative stress in Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Neisseria meningitidis: distinctive systems for different lifestyles

J Infect Dis. 2004 Jul 1;190(1):136-47. doi: 10.1086/421299. Epub 2004 Jun 8.


Defenses against oxidative stress are crucial for the survival of the pathogens Neisseria meningitidis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae. An Mn(II) uptake system is involved in manganese (Mn)-dependent resistance to superoxide radicals in N. gonorrhoeae. Here, we show that accumulation of Mn also confers resistance to hydrogen peroxide killing via a catalase-independent mechanism. An mntC mutant of N. meningitidis is susceptible to oxidative killing, but supplementation of growth media with Mn does not enhance the organism's resistance to oxidative killing. N. meningitidis is able to grow in the presence of millimolar levels of Mn ion, in contrast to N. gonorrhoeae, whose growth is retarded at Mn concentrations >100 micromol/L, indicating that Mn homeostasis in the 2 species is probably quite different. N. meningitidis superoxide dismutase B plays a role in protection against oxidative killing. However, a sodC mutant of N. meningitidis is no more sensitive to oxidative killing than is the wild type. A cytochrome c peroxidase (Ccp) is present in N. gonorrhoeae but not in N. meningitidis. Investigations of a ccp mutant revealed a role for Ccp in protection against hydrogen peroxide killing. These differences in oxidative defenses in the pathogenic Neisseria are most likely a result of their localization in different ecological niches.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Culture Media
  • Heat-Shock Response*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / pharmacology
  • Manganese / pharmacology*
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / drug effects
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / growth & development*
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / physiology
  • Neisseria meningitidis / drug effects
  • Neisseria meningitidis / growth & development*
  • Neisseria meningitidis / physiology
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Superoxide Dismutase / genetics
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Culture Media
  • Manganese
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Catalase
  • Superoxide Dismutase