Mechanisms of disseminating gonococcal infection
N. gonorrhoeae express numerous variant surface proteins mediating adherence to and invasion into target cells. Bacteria expressing the major outer membrane porin of serotype A (PorBIA) is frequently isolated from patients with severe disseminating infections. PorB of this serotype triggers invasion into various host cells also in the absence of any other adhesin or invasin. PorBIA-mediated interaction, however, depends on an environment as it is found in serum. Host cell invasion of PorBIA-expressing gonococci occurs by engagement of EGF-repeat containing class F scavenger receptor, SREC (scavenger receptors expressed on endothelial cells). However, the host cell senses the interacting bacteria and responds with the release of ‘danger signal’ molecules like Gp96 which prevent the invasion of the pathogen. We are just starting to understand the complex interplay between pathogen and host. This project focusses on the role of sphingolipids in gonococcal infection (read more) and the identification of additional bacterial factors required for disseminating gonococcal infection (read more).