Gene expression pattern in human brain endothelial cells in response to Neisseria meningitidis
A. Schubert-Unkmeir, O. Sokolova, U. Panzner, M. Eigenthaler, and M. Frosch.
Infection and Immunity 75 (2): 899--914 (February 2007)PMID: 17130252.

To extend our knowledge of target proteins in endothelial cells infected with the meningitis-causing pathogen Neisseria meningitidis, we characterized the interaction between the bacterial and human brain microvascular endothelial cell (HBMEC) monolayers. By use of human cDNA microarrays, transcriptional analysis revealed distinct responses to 4 and 8 h of infection. We also addressed the question of whether the major virulence factor of meningococci, i.e., the capsule, influences the host cell response. Of the 1,493 (at 4 h postinfection) and 1,246 (at 8 h postinfection) genes with altered expression upon bacterial contact, about 49.4\% and 45\%, respectively, depended on capsule expression. In particular, we identified an increase of expression for genes encoding proteins involved in bacterial adhesion and invasion. High levels of apoptosis-related gene (bad, bak, asp, and immediate-early response gene 1) expression could also be detected in infected cells. Further analyses confirmed that HBMECs displayed several hallmarks of apoptosis in response to N. meningitidis infection, namely, phosphatidylserine translocation and activation of caspase 3 and AMP-activated protein kinase alpha. Moreover, several differentially regulated genes not previously known to respond to meningococcal infection were identified. Of these, genes encoding cell adhesion proteins (CD44, CD98, and CD99), genes involved in downstream signaling of integrins (integrin-linked kinase, mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 1, and mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase 10) as well as negative regulators of these pathways (dual-specificity phosphatases 1, 5, and 14 and G protein pathway suppressor 2), and genes involved in cytoskeleton reorganization (those encoding Arp2/3, p34-arc, actinin alpha 1, vasodilatator-stimulated protein, and Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein) were the most prominent. This global transcriptional analysis creates a new platform for further molecular and cellular analysis of the interaction between N. meningitidis and target cells.
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