Neisseria: friend or foe

Neisseria: friend or foe

The bacterial genus Neisseria comprises commensal and pathogenic species. Pathogenic Neisseria can be found in human nasal passages where the bacteria attach to the surface using special filaments, called Type IV pili. These are required both during harmless colonisation of the upper airway, and invasive disease.

Mariya Lobanovska and colleagues studied Neisseria meningitidis, a pathogenic member of the Neisseria species, which causes meningitis and septic shock. They studied the components of the Type IV pili and found that one version of a component called PilE is particularly common in strains which cause epidemic disease. Interestingly, this version is conserved and shares homology with PilE from commensal Neisseria. To understand how this version can be present in both pathogenic and commensal bacteria, the transcriptional regulation was investigated. This new paper shows that the transcriptional regulation differs between the pathogenic and commensal bacteria. This new understanding of PilE transcription provides insight into the divergent mechanisms of Type IV pili regulation in commensal and pathogenic Neisseria.


Heather Jeffery

Lobanovska M, Tang CM, Exley RM.

J. Bacteriol pii: JB.00170-19. doi: 10.1128/JB.00170-19. [Epub ahead of print]