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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2009 Apr;7(4):274-86. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2097.

Pathogenic neisseriae: surface modulation, pathogenesis and infection control.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, School of Medical Sciences, University Walk, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1TD, UK.


Although renowned as a lethal pathogen, Neisseria meningitidis has adapted to be a commensal of the human nasopharynx. It shares extensive genetic and antigenic similarities with the urogenital pathogen Neisseria gonorrhoeae but displays a distinct lifestyle and niche preference. Together, they pose a considerable challenge for vaccine development as they modulate their surface structures with remarkable speed. Nonetheless, their host-cell attachment and invasion capacity is maintained, a property that could be exploited to combat tissue infiltration. With the primary focus on N. meningitidis, this Review examines the known mechanisms used by these pathogens for niche establishment and the challenges such mechanisms pose for infection control.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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