Meningococcal adhesion suppresses proapoptotic gene expression and promotes expression of genes supporting early embryonic and cytoprotective signaling of human endothelial cells

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2006 Oct;263(1):109-18. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2006.00407.x.


Neisseria meningitidis colonizes the human nasopharynx and occasionally causes lethal or damaging septicemia and meningitis. Here, we examined the adherence-mediated signaling of meningococci to human cells by comparing gene expression profiles of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) infected by adherent wild-type, frpC-deficient mutant, or the nonadherent (DeltapilD) N. meningitidis. Pili-mediated adhesion of meningococci resulted in alterations of expression levels of human genes known to regulate apoptosis, cell proliferation, inflammatory response, adhesion and genes for signaling pathway proteins such as TGF-beta/Smad, Wnt/beta-catenin and Notch/Jagged. This reveals that adhering piliated meningocci manipulate host signaling pathways controlling cell proliferation while establishing a commensal relationship.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Bacterial Adhesion*
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cytoprotection / genetics
  • Embryo, Mammalian / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / microbiology*
  • Fimbriae Proteins / deficiency
  • Fimbriae Proteins / genetics
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Iron-Binding Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins / deficiency
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Neisseria meningitidis / pathogenicity*
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Periplasmic Binding Proteins
  • RNA, Complementary
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Umbilical Veins / cytology*
  • Up-Regulation*


  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Iron-Binding Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Periplasmic Binding Proteins
  • RNA, Complementary
  • frpC protein, Neisseria meningitidis
  • Fimbriae Proteins