Meningococcal disease: A paradigm of type-IV pilus dependent pathogenesis

Cell Microbiol. 2020 Apr;22(4):e13185. doi: 10.1111/cmi.13185.


Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus) is a Gram-negative bacterium responsible for two devastating forms of invasive diseases: purpura fulminans and meningitis. Interaction with both peripheral and cerebral microvascular endothelial cells is at the heart of meningococcal pathogenesis. During the last two decades, an essential role for meningococcal type IV pili in vascular colonisation and disease progression has been unravelled. This review summarises 20 years of research on meningococcal type IV pilus-dependent virulence mechanisms, up to the identification of promising anti-virulence compounds that target type IV pili.

Keywords: Neisseria meningitidis; adhesion; cell signalling; pathogenesis; therapeutic target; type IV pili; virulence.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Adhesion*
  • Endothelial Cells / microbiology
  • Fimbriae, Bacterial / classification*
  • Fimbriae, Bacterial / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Meningococcal Infections / microbiology*
  • Mice
  • Neisseria meningitidis / pathogenicity*
  • Virulence