Transcriptome analysis of human brain microvascular endothelial cells response to Neisseria meningitidis and its antigen MafA using RNA-seq

Sci Rep. 2019 Dec 10;9(1):18763. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-55409-y.


Interaction of Neisseria meningitidis (NM) with human brain microvascular endothelial cells (hBMECs) initiates of multiple cellular processes, which allow bacterial translocation across the blood-brain barrier (BBB). NM is equipped with several antigens, which interacts with the host cell receptors. Recently we have shown that adhesin MafA (UniProtKB-X5EG71), relatively less studied protein, is one of those surface exposed antigens that adhere to hBMECs. The present study was designed to comprehensively map the undergoing biological processes in hBMECs challenged with NM or MafA using RNA sequencing. 708 and 726 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified in hBMECs exposed to NM and MafA, respectively. Gene ontology analysis of the DEGs revealed that several biological processes, which may alter the permeability of BBB, were activated. Comparative analysis of DEGs revealed that MafA, alike NM, might provoke TLR-dependent pathway and augment cytokine response. Moreover, both MafA and NM were able to induce genes involved in cell surface modifications, endocytosis, extracellular matrix remodulation and anoikis/apoptosis. In conclusion, this study for the first time describes effect of NM on the global gene expression in hBMECs using high-throughput RNA-seq. It also presents ability of MafA to induce gene expression, which might aid NM in breaching the BBB.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adhesins, Bacterial / immunology*
  • Adhesins, Bacterial / metabolism
  • Bacterial Translocation / genetics
  • Bacterial Translocation / immunology
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / cytology
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / immunology
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Endothelial Cells / immunology
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / immunology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / immunology*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / genetics
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / immunology
  • Humans
  • Meningitis, Meningococcal / immunology
  • Meningitis, Meningococcal / microbiology
  • Neisseria meningitidis / immunology*
  • RNA-Seq
  • Recombinant Proteins / immunology
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism


  • Adhesins, Bacterial
  • Recombinant Proteins