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Vaccine. 2008 Dec 30;26 Suppl 8:I40-5.

Factor H and neisserial pathogenesis.

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Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, CA, USA.


Both Neisseria gonorrhoeae and N. meningitidis bind to factor H which enhances their ability to evade complement-dependent killing. While porin is the ligand for human fH on gonococci, meningococci use a lipoprotein called factor H binding protein (fHbp) to bind to factor H and enhance their ability to evade complement-dependent killing. This protein is currently being intensively investigated as a meningococcal vaccine candidate antigen. Consistent with the observation that meningococci cause natural infection only in humans, the organism resists human complement, and are more readily killed by complement from lower animals. This human species-specific complement evasion has important implications for evaluation of vaccine-elicited antibodies using non-human complement sources and development of animal models of disease.

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