Cell signaling by the type IV pili of pathogenic Neisseria

Helena Källström, Md Shahidul Islam, Per Olof Berggren, Ann Beth Jonsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Neisseria meningitidis are Gram-negative bacterial pathogens that infect human mucosal epithelia. Type IV pilus- mediated adherence of these bacteria is a crucial early event for establishment of infection. In this work, we show that the type IV pili transduce a signal into the eucaryotic host cell. Purified adherent pili, but not pill from a low binding mutant, trigger an increase in the cytosolic free calcium ([Ca2+](i)) in target epithelial cells, a signal known to control many cellular responses. The [Ca2+](i) increase was blocked by antibodies against CD46, a putative pilus receptor, suggesting a role for this protein in signal transduction. Pilus-mediated attachment was inhibited by depletion of host cell intracellular Ca2+ stores but not by removal of extracellular Ca2+. Further, kinase inhibition studies showed that pilus-mediated adherence is dependent on casein kinase II. In summary, these data reveal a novel function of the type IV pili, namely induction of signal transduction pathways in host cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21777-21782
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number34
StatePublished - Aug 21 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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