Send to

Choose Destination
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Jun 18;110(25):10234-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1303738110. Epub 2013 Jun 3.

Neisseria gonorrhoeae-derived heptose elicits an innate immune response and drives HIV-1 expression.

Author information

Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 1A8.


Clinical and epidemiological synergy exists between the globally important sexually transmitted infections, gonorrhea and HIV. Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which causes gonorrhea, is particularly adept at driving HIV-1 expression, but the molecular determinants of this relationship remain undefined. N. gonorrhoeae liberates a soluble factor that potently induces expression from the HIV-1 LTR in coinfected cluster of differentiation 4-positive (CD4(+)) T lymphocytes, but this factor is not a previously described innate effector. A genome-wide mutagenesis approach was undertaken to reveal which component(s) of N. gonorrhoeae induce HIV-1 expression in CD4(+) T lymphocytes. A mutation in the ADP-heptose biosynthesis gene, hldA, rendered the bacteria unable to induce HIV-1 expression. The hldA mutant has a truncated lipooligosaccharide structure, contains lipid A in its outer membrane, and remains bioactive in a TLR4 reporter-based assay but did not induce HIV-1 expression. Mass spectrometry analysis of extensively fractionated N. gonorrhoeae-derived supernatants revealed that the LTR-inducing fraction contained a compound having a mass consistent with heptose-monophosphate (HMP). Heptose is a carbohydrate common in microbes but is absent from the mammalian glycome. Although ADP-heptose biosynthesis is common among Gram-negative bacteria, and heptose is a core component of most lipopolysaccharides, N. gonorrhoeae is peculiar in that it effectively liberates HMP during growth. This N. gonorrhoeae-derived HMP activates CD4(+) T cells to invoke an NF-κB-dependent transcriptional response that drives HIV-1 expression and viral production. Our study thereby shows that heptose is a microbial-specific product that is sensed as an innate immune agonist and unveils the molecular link between N. gonorrhoeae and HIV-1.


coinfection; inflammation; microbial-associated molecular pattern; pathogen-associated molecular pattern; sexually transmitted disease

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center