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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2002 Dec;975:202-16.

Gene expression profile in Neisseria meningitidis and Neisseria lactamica upon host-cell contact: from basic research to vaccine development.

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Chiron SpA, Siena, Italy.


Differential gene regulation in the human pathogen Neisseria meningitidis group B (MenB) and in Neisseria lactamica, a human commensal species, was studied by whole genome microarray after bacterial interaction with epithelial cells. Host-cell contact induced changes in the expression of 347 and 285 genes in MenB and N. lactamica, respectively. Of these, only 167 were common to MenB and N. lactamica, suggesting that a different subset of genes is activated by pathogens and commensals. Change in gene expression was stable over time in N. lactamica, but short-lived in MenB. A large part (greater than 30%) of the regulated genes encoded proteins with unknown function. Among the known genes, those coding for pili, capsule, protein synthesis, nucleotide synthesis, cell wall metabolism, ATP synthesis, and protein folding were down-regulated in MenB. Transporters for iron, chloride and sulfate, some known virulence factors, GAPDH and the entire pathway of selenocysteine biosynthesis were upregulated. Gene expression profiling indicates that approximately 40% of the regulated genes encode putative surface-associated proteins, suggesting that upon cell contact Neisseria undergoes substantial surface remodeling. This was confirmed by FACS analysis of adhering bacteria using mouse sera against a subset of recombinant proteins. Finally, a few surface-located, adhesion-activated antigens were capable of inducing bactericidal antibodies, indicating that microarray technology can be exploited for the identification of new vaccine candidates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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