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Title: Neisserial Heparin Binding Antigen (NHBA) Contributes to the Adhesion of Neisseria meningitidis to Human Epithelial Cells
Authors: Vacca, Irene
Del Tordello, E.
Gasperini, G.
Pezzicoli, A.
Di Fede, M.
Rossi Paccani, S.
Marchi, S.
Mubaiwa, T. D.
Hartley-Tassell, L. E.
Jennings, M. P.
Seib, K. L.
Masignani, V.
Pizza, M.
Serruto, D.
Aricò, B.
Delany, I.
First Published: 25-Oct-2016
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Citation: PLoS ONE, 2016, 11 (10), e0162878
Abstract: Neisserial Heparin Binding Antigen (NHBA) is a surface-exposed lipoprotein ubiquitously expressed by Neisseria meningitidis strains and an antigen of the Bexsero® vaccine. NHBA binds heparin through a conserved Arg-rich region that is the target of two proteases, the meningococcal NalP and human lactoferrin (hLf). In this work, in vitro studies showed that recombinant NHBA protein was able to bind epithelial cells and mutations of the Arg-rich tract abrogated this binding. All N-terminal and C-terminal fragments generated by NalP or hLf cleavage, regardless of the presence or absence of the Arg-rich region, did not bind to cells, indicating that a correct positioning of the Arg-rich region within the full length protein is crucial. Moreover, binding was abolished when cells were treated with heparinase III, suggesting that this interaction is mediated by heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs). N. meningitidis nhba knockout strains showed a significant reduction in adhesion to epithelial cells with respect to isogenic wild-type strains and adhesion of the wild-type strain was inhibited by anti-NHBA antibodies in a dose-dependent manner. Overall, the results demonstrate that NHBA contributes to meningococcal adhesion to epithelial cells through binding to HSPGs and suggest a possible role of anti-Bexsero® antibodies in the prevention of colonization.
DOI Link: 10.1371/journal.pone.0162878
eISSN: 1932-6203
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © the authors, 2016. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Genetics

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