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Vaccine. 2009 Jun 24;27 Suppl 2:B78-89. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2009.04.069. Epub 2009 May 28.

Meningococcal interactions with the host.

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INSERM, unité 570, Université Paris Descartes, 156 rue de Vaugirard, Paris 75015, France.


Neisseria meningitidis interacts with host tissues through hierarchical, concerted and co-ordinated actions of a number of adhesins; many of which undergo antigenic and phase variation, a strategy that helps immune evasion. Three major structures, pili, Opa and Opc predominantly influence bacterial adhesion to host cells. Pili and Opa proteins also determine host and tissue specificity while Opa and Opc facilitate efficient cellular invasion. Recent studies have also implied a role of certain adhesin-receptor pairs in determining increased host susceptibility to infection. This chapter examines our current knowledge of meningococcal adhesion and invasion mechanisms particularly related to human epithelial and endothelial cells which are of primary importance in the disease process.

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