Oral Presentation Lorne Infection and Immunity 2013

Dual pili post-translational modifications synergize to mediate meningococcal adherence to platelet activating factor receptor on human airway cells (#3)

Michael Jennings 1
  1. Institute for Glycomics, Griffith University , GOLD COAST , QLD, Australia

Pili of pathogenic Neisseria are major virulence factors associated with adhesion,

twitching motility, autoaggregation, and DNA transformation. Pili of N. meningitidis

are subject to several different post-translational modifications. Among these pilin

modifications, the presence of phosphorylcholine (ChoP) and a glycan on the pilin

protein are phase-variable (subject to high frequency, reversible on/off switching of

expression). In this study we report the location of two ChoP modifications on the Cterminus

of N. meningitidis pilin. We show that the surface accessibility of ChoP on

pili is affected by phase variable changes to the structure of the pilin-linked glycan.

We identify for the first time that the platelet activating factor receptor (PAFr) is a

key, early event receptor for meningococcal adherence to human bronchial epithelial

cells and tissue, and that synergy between the pilin-linked glycan and ChoP posttranslational

modifications is required for pili to optimally engage PAFr to mediate

adherence to human airway cells.