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Infect Immun. 2009 Jun;77(6):2285-93. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01502-08. Epub 2009 Mar 16.

Role of HrpA in biofilm formation of Neisseria meningitidis and regulation of the hrpBAS transcripts.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


Two-partner secretion systems of gram-negative organisms are utilized in adherence, invasion, and biofilm formation. The HrpAB proteins of Neisseria meningitidis are members of a two-partner secretion system, and HrpA is established as being important to adherence and intracellular escape. This study set out to determine the expression pattern of members of the hrpBAS putative operon and to find a functional role for the HrpA protein. The upregulation of these genes was found in situations of anaerobiosis and cell contact. These observations prompted the study of the function of HrpA in biofilms on human bronchial epithelial cells. HrpA mutants in encapsulated and unencapsulated NMB strains demonstrated biofilm growth equivalent to that of the wild-type strain at 6 h but a decreased ability to form biofilms at 48 h. Biofilms formed by hrpA mutants for 48 h on collagen-coated coverslips demonstrated significant reductions compared to those of wild-type strains. Taken together, these observations imply a role for HrpA in the biofilm structure. Further analysis demonstrated the presence of HrpA on the surface of the bacterium.

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