Phosphoethanolamine decoration of Neisseria gonorrhoeae lipid A plays a dual immunostimulatory and protective role during experimental genital tract infection.


Journal Article

The induction of an intense inflammatory response by Neisseria gonorrhoeae and the persistence of this pathogen in the presence of innate effectors is a fascinating aspect of gonorrhea. Phosphoethanolamine (PEA) decoration of lipid A increases gonococcal resistance to complement-mediated bacteriolysis and cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAMPs), and recently we reported that wild-type N. gonorrhoeae strain FA1090 has a survival advantage relative to a PEA transferase A (lptA) mutant in the human urethral-challenge and murine lower genital tract infection models. Here we tested the immunostimulatory role of this lipid A modification. Purified lipooligosaccharide (LOS) containing lipid A devoid of the PEA modification and an lptA mutant of strain FA19 induced significantly lower levels of NF-κB in human embryonic kidney Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) cells and murine embryonic fibroblasts than wild-type LOS of the parent strain. Moreover, vaginal proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines were not elevated in female mice infected with the isogenic lptA mutant, in contrast to mice infected with the wild-type and complemented lptA mutant bacteria. We also demonstrated that lptA mutant bacteria were more susceptible to human and murine cathelicidins due to increased binding by these peptides and that the differential induction of NF-κB by wild-type and unmodified lipid A was more pronounced in the presence of CAMPs. This work demonstrates that PEA decoration of lipid A plays both protective and immunostimulatory roles and that host-derived CAMPs may further reduce the capacity of PEA-deficient lipid A to interact with TLR4 during infection.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Packiam, M; Yedery, RD; Begum, AA; Carlson, RW; Ganguly, J; Sempowski, GD; Ventevogel, MS; Shafer, WM; Jerse, AE

Published Date

  • June 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 82 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 2170 - 2179

PubMed ID

  • 24686069

Pubmed Central ID

  • 24686069

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1098-5522

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1128/IAI.01504-14


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States