Entry of Neisseria meningitidis into mammalian cells requires the Src family protein tyrosine kinases

Infect Immun. 2010 May;78(5):1905-14. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01267-09. Epub 2010 Feb 22.


Neisseria meningitidis, the causative agent of meningitis and septicemia, is able to attach to and invade a variety of cell types. In a previous study we showed that entry of N. meningitidis into human brain microvascular endothelial cells (HBMEC) is mediated by fibronectin bound to the outer membrane protein Opc, which forms a molecular bridge to alpha 5 beta 1-integrins. This interaction results in cytoskeletal remodeling and uptake of the bacteria. In this study we identified and characterized the intracellular signals involved in integrin-initiated uptake of N. meningitidis. We determined that the Src protein tyrosine kinases (PTKs) are activated in response to contact with N. meningitidis. Inhibition of Src PTK activity by the general tyrosine kinase inhibitor genistein and the specific Src inhibitor PP2 reduced Opc-mediated invasion of HBMEC and human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293T cells up to 90%. Moreover, overexpression of the cellular Src antagonist C-terminal Src kinase (CSK) also significantly reduced N. meningitidis invasion. Src PTK-deficient fibroblasts were impaired in the ability to internalize N. meningitidis and showed reduced phosphorylation of the cytoskeleton and decreased development of stress fibers. These data indicate that the Src family PTKs, particularly the Src protein, along with other proteins, are important signal proteins that are responsible for the transfer of signals from activated integrins to the cytoskeleton and thus mediate the endocytosis of N. meningitidis into brain endothelial cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Endocytosis*
  • Endothelial Cells / microbiology*
  • Genistein / pharmacology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Neisseria meningitidis / pathogenicity*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism*


  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Genistein
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases